Catch It: Till & Sprocket

Wandamoorepix2Last Thursday, I met with my friend Michelle for a late lunch at Till & Sprocket, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. We both ordered the same: Beet Caprese (sliced red beets, fresh mozzarella and pistachio pesto) with Salmon. It was superb. The salmon was grilled to perfection, the beets were sweet and hearty. The special part was seeing my dear friend, sharing pictures of her family in North Carolina and my family in Georgia. We were two contented Southern girls enjoying the sun with a marvelous meal at Till & Sprocket.

Catch it if you can at www.tillandsprocket.com

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Catch It: The Grapes of Wrath

I remember reading The Grapes of Wrath in college. This week I started it again. John Steinbeck’s lyrical novel of the motion of the winds, the rain and the unsettling of the sun brought me close to Harvey…with the devastation of the hurricane in Houston, Texas. While reading The Grapes of Wrath, I was reminded that the dust does fly away and the sunlight breaks through again.

Chapter One

“When June was half gone, the big clouds moved up out of Texas and the Gulf, high heavy clouds, rain-heads. The men in the fields looked up at the clouds and sniffed at them and held wet fingers up to sense the wind. And the horses were nervous while the clouds were up. The rain-heads dropped a little spattering and hurried on to some other country. Behind them the sky was pale again and the sun flared. In the dust there were drop craters where the rain had fallen, and there were clean splashes on the corn, and that was all.

A gentle wind followed the rain clouds, driving them on northward, a wind that softly clashed the drying corn. A day went by and the wind increased, steady, unbroken by gusts. The dust from the roads fluffed up and spread out and fell on the weeds beside the fields, and fell into the fields a little way. Now the wind grew strong and hard and it worked at the rain crust in the corn fields. Little by little the sky was darkened by mixing dust, and the wind felt over the earth, loosened the dust, and carried it away. The wind grew stronger. The rain crust broke and the dust lifted up out of the fields and drove gray plumes into the air like sluggish smoke. The corn threshed the wind and made a dry, rushing sound. The finest dust did not settle back to earth now, but disappeared into the darkening sky.

The wind grew stronger, whisked under stones, carried up straws and old leaves, and even little clods, marking its course as it sailed across the fields. The air and the sky darkened and through them the sun shone redly, and there was a raw sting in the air. During a night the wind raced faster over the land, dug cunningly among the rootlets of the corn, and the corn fought the wind with its weakened leaves until the roots were freed by the prying wind and then each stalk settled wearily sideways toward the earth and pointed the direction of the wind.”

—John Steinbeck

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Catch It: Café Dada

Her laughter was unforgettable, her smile was sunshine, and her crab cakes were to live for. That’s how I remember my Aunt Vivie. When I would visit her at her home in the quaint seaside town of Cape May, New Jersey, summer days meant running on the beach, returning to her comfy yellow house and sitting at the kitchen table for scrambled eggs, buttery biscuits and scrumptious crab cakes for breakfast. Although Aunt Vivie passed away years ago, her exuberance for life still remains with me.

These memories were evoked recently on a beautiful spring day. Walking in Park Slope, I came upon Café Dada at 57 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217. I decided I would have an iced coffee and write. And while there, I looked at the menu, and saw Crab Cakes served with purple cabbage slaw. I instantly thought of my sweet Aunt Vivie and the breezy days of Cape May.

I was not disappointed. My Crab Cakes were light, fluffy and exquisite. I enjoyed my meal. I heard children playing outside, and one was a little girl. Her melodious voice brought nostalgia mixed with nature’s present joy.

Catch it if you can at www.cafedadany.com

Posted in American Comfort Food, Brooklyn, Cafes, Cape May, Crab Cakes, French-Hungarian, Park Slope Restaurants, Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch It: See’s Candies, Chocolate & Candy Gifts

I had another adventure in downtown Manhattan last week. I was walking on West 8th Street when I came upon See’s Candies. It is the kind of unexpected delight I adore, a chocolate castle of sweets.

After long hours of working on the book I’m writing, it’s always a dark chocolate treat I give myself.

See’s Candies is new in New York City, located at 60 West 8th Street, NYC, 10011. The American-made high quality chocolates got their beginning in Los Angeles and South San Francisco. Three of my favorites are:

  • Almond Royal
  • Premium Extra Dark Chocolate Bars
  • Dark Peppermint

The space is small and cozy, the staff is extraordinarily nice, and the ambience is like a sunny day in Georgia. Of course, gazing at the many varieties of super delicious chocolates at See’s Candies is sure to make me smile no matter the weather outside.

Catch it if you can at http://www.sees.com

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Catch It: Coffeemania Restaurant

After weathering the Sixth Avenue traffic and a long meeting in Midtown’s Bryant Park neighborhood, I came upon Coffeemania (1065 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10018). I thought I would chill out over a warm cup of coffee, and yet as soon as I walked inI felt like I’d stepped into an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The outside décor gives the appearance of a coffee shop. The inside is another story. The mystery is the restaurant’s simple elegance, where the experience is grand in small details. It’s not just the friendliness of the hostess, the gracious servers, or the beautiful flowers on the tables. It’s the confluence of all three, cocooned within the smooth chimes of melodies from the soundtrack and the contemporary, warm-oak style of the spacious restaurant.

Even observing the motion of the barista making my coffee was relaxing, and it was worth the wait. Coffeemania’s coffee was rich and supremely delicious. I ordered my dessert and imagined that the poet and playwright Alexander Pushkin could have sat in the leather booth, talking to admirers in the 21st century.

My sweet Pannochka (hazelnut cake with butter coca cream) arrived and jolted me from my reverie. I savored each bite enjoying a taste of Coffeemania’s cuisine, which surely will become a classic in Manhattan.

Catch it if you can at www.coffeemaniaNYC.com

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Catch It: Gotham Scoop 2017

Sarah Grimaud is on a mission. And when you meet her, a young lady in her thirties, with a bright and sunny smile, one is not surprised to hear of her profession. “I am a personal trainer and I care about health—the gifts from health,” she said cheerfully.

Before long, we sat down at a coffee shop, and I interviewed Ms. Grimaud. Her positive and poised way in sharing her gifts from health is the gifts of wisdom.

How did you become a personal trainer?

I have always been active and I love fitness. I first came into fitness as a profession through teaching group fitness classes, teaching Zumba fitness dance classes, and then also teaching some strength and weights classes. And that just piqued my interest and I wanted to learn even more and become more knowledgeable to help clients with their personal goals.

What do you like about being a personal trainer?

I love it. It’s great. I get to do something I am passionate about. And so, I am passionate about being healthy myself, and inspiring, empowering and encouraging others to also be healthy so they can best enjoy their lives. I think that health gives us so many gifts, and I want everyone to be able to understand and enjoy these gifts.

Where did you receive your training?

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has a Personal Trainer Certification program. You can actually do it yourself online and with a book, but I wanted to do it in person to get hands-on experience. There is this great program that is done through the Crunch gym called PTEC. It is a six-week intensive, three days per week, and all day. It’s great to learn with a Master Trainer, someone who has been doing it a long time. He taught us so much, answered our questions and made sure we totally understood everything.

What is your most popular routine for a client who is overweight?

What is your special connection with your clients?

I think people love my positivity, my positive energy. My energy as a whole is very sunny, optimistic and encouraging. People can connect with that and I think people appreciate that.

Is there a particular healthcare message you want to share?

My father died from colon cancer when I was seven years old and that has taught me a lot of things, including to enjoy your life, and also giving me the passion for health and fitness. I want to keep myself healthy to prevent disease down the line. So, it is important to me to spread that message to others. And I want others to understand that working out has a great mental aspect. With the endorphins, you are feeling great as well as keeping your body healthy.

My cause is that I am most interested in people joining wellness, joining fitness to stay healthy inside. I know some people are focused on the physique and looking a certain way. But, what is really important to me is to encourage people to workout for keeping their heart healthy, preventing disease, keeping their muscles strong (and all of that), etc.

Lastly, Valentine’s Day is coming up soon; do you have any tips on what you should do before the chocolates?

I would say enjoy Valentine’s Day. Eat the chocolate or don’t. Do what feels right to you and your body on that day. To get in the mood for Valentine’s Day, you could take some type of flirty, sexy, and sassy exercise class. You could take, for example, Zumba dance classes, hula hoop classes or another type of dance class. You and your significant other could take a partner dance class together on Valentine’s Day to both celebrate your health, and to turn up the heat with each other, and have fun on Valentine’s Day.

Posted in Fitness, Gifts from Health, Gotham Scoop 2017, Valentine's Day | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch It: Max Brenner’s Hot Chocolate

Friday after Thanksgiving, friends and I went to The Rink at Bryant Park. Judy and Joey and their children, ages 10, 14 and 5.

I did not skate, but instead strolled over to Max Brenner’s kiosk for some hot chocolate. The cozy Bryant Park shop is a seasonal outpost of the legendary Max Brenner Chocolate Bar and Restaurant in Union Square.

While the very nice sales associate made my orders, I sipped a sample taste of their classic hot chocolate with whipped cream. It was divine, and for a chocolate lover like meheaven supreme.

A minute later, my orders in hand, I returned towards The Rink, meandering while relishing my own rich and deeply satisfying dark chocolate experience.

Right away, ten eager eyes spotted me and raced my way. Except the little one, who fell but hurriedly got back up again.

Catch it if you can at www.maxbrenner.com and www.bryantpark.org.

Posted in Bryant Park, Chocolatier, Coffee & Tea, Gift Shops, Hot Chocolate, Midtown, The Rink | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment