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One of my favorite things in NYC is the pretzel croissant at City Bakery. City Bakery is nearly perfect in every way, from the graphic design that was done by Carin Goldberg, to the hot chocolate month of February, which features a different flavor every day of the month. (MJ’s pro tip: all you need is a shot.) It also sits on a nearly perfect block in Manhattan, across from the best children’s bookstore, down the street from the ultimate paper store and art supply shop.

When I’m feeling a little down, a little guilty, a little happy, or a little bit like I need to indulge in a secret, I will go for the peanut butter cookie. It’s deceptively little, and looks like it won’t be enough. But soon enough, you realize it was all you needed.

In a dangerous step of having too much of a good thing, I’m making these cookies right now as we speak. They are in the oven, and will travel with me tomorrow up to my aunt’s house for Christmas Eve. Tis the season. Hope you are spending yours with all your favorites.

Recipe here: Salty-Sweet Peanut Butter Sandies

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Photo by Soo-Jeong Kang/The New York Times

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Cat Power “Manhattan”

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Very excited that this portrait series of four sisters, taken over 40 years is on view at the MoMA till Jan, 4 2015.

More info on the exhibit here.

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From Gael Towey’s new short films series, Portraits in Creativity.

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Saw a Tara Donovan exhibit at Pace Gallery last week.

As we inspected up-close the ordinary that makes her art spectacular, my friend noted how the sculptures had to be built within the space, and couldn’t easily be sold and moved to a different site. I replied by noting she was a true artist, which sounds a bit lost without the context of being said in a Chelsea gallery.

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I am so excited about the latest book from Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler, Girls Standing on Lawns. Because wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to visit the moma with Maira Kalman and ask her what she thinks of all these photos? And it makes me wish I had access to my own family albums, to assess all the photos that were taken of me growing up, all pretty much on the same spot in our yard. And a new item for my to-do list, her paintings on view at the Julie Saul Gallery, ending soon on June 14.

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I once had a boss who would invite his team to his house for an amazing holiday dinner every year. We would walk in, smell the Christmas tree, drink some festive cocktails, and sit down together for a family meal that was the perfect counterpart to spending the holidays with actual family. We always did a very cheesy office secret santa with a $5 spending limit, but it always followed with the promise of our boss giving us individually selected books, mostly beautiful art books that us young kids could only enjoy otherwise as an indulgence. At the end of the night, most of us would get back on the Metro-North for the 2-hour ride back to Grand Central. Along that way, we obsessed over our new books and nervously analyzed out loud why he had given each of us the specifically selected book we were given. If the book wasn’t serious enough, or expensive enough, or heavy enough, or on a subject that one could not personally relate to, the timid insecurity we all had would ring out into the stale train air, “My boss hates me.” You could say we (like small children) really vied for his affection.

One year, I received Sugimoto’s Architecture of Time. I proudly showed off the cover of my book when my colleagues inevitably asked, “What did you get?”

He adores me and thinks I’m perfect.

Then there was the year I received Gregory Crewdson’s Twilight. This was my first introduction to his highly produced photos of suburbia and I remember slowly flipping through the book, horrified at the analyses that I knew would await me on the long train ride home. Does my boss think I’m sad? Lonely? Dark and soulless? So fake, that the fakeness was real? OMG. He thinks I’m a freak.

I remember the first time I saw a real Gregory Crewdson photo. It was enormous and absolutely spectacular. I could see how beautiful these images were, and that they had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with something unlike I had ever seen before in photography.

This all flashed up in memory because I see that Gregory Crewdson is having a show at Wave Hill of pics he took more than 15 years ago of fireflies. Fireflies also on my mind because they make appearance in Tinybop’s Plants app at dusk, a beautiful surprise for those who are curious enough to discover them.

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Pictured above: Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 1996. Silver Gelatin Print. 6 3/8 x 9 5/8 inches. © Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

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If you need to find me, I’ll just be over here moaning and possibly crying.

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I very clearly remember the first time I had uni. My cousin forced me into it. I was resistant because her description of the texture sounded scary. We were at this restaurant in soho, before I lived in NYC, the kind of restaurant that my uncle (this cousin’s dad) would scoff at for its fancy prices and delicate portions.

I don’t like obsessing over expensive food, but uni is definitely the thing that makes me weak all over and swiftly becomes the topic of my conversation on the internet.

My best friend from junior high school was just in town and there is something that happens when we get together and all we want to do is eat. I’ve thought about it, and I think it is about the comfort of it, sharing a meal, taking us back to the days when our biggest worries were spanish homework and how we were going to get to the beach after school. It’s our solace. Our escape. Our time to indulge in each other’s rare in-person company and couple it with good food.

Somehow or another we boarded the crazy train for an uni craving. It started with the uni panini at El Quinto Pino. Then we decided we should get it while having dinner at Tomoe sushi. They were out. We were sad. I told her we would make up for it the next day by going to get the best uni don in town at Robataya. They were out. I remembered Soba-ya next door had it on their menu, so we proceeded to eat dinner #1 (we had to eat my favorite dish at Robataya which is the salmon kamameshi) and then went next door for dinner #2. They no longer had the uni don on their menu, so we settled for uni soba. It was disappointing.

This is all a long-winded way to say, that I have rounded up my favorite uni dishes in the city in hopes of luring my dear friend back to town for more successful uni adventures.

 

Hands down, best uni don at Robataya, served with ikura. Currently not on the menu (see sob story above) but they tell me it should be back. I’m also realizing this is potentially more reliably available on the lunch menu. PSA: Robataya is closed for a few weeks for renovation.

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Photo by Robyn Lee

 

 

Uni panini at El Quinto Pino. This dish came out at the start of the uni surge in NYC a few years ago. It has been cherished and also bashed by people who were expecting more. I don’t usually like the fusion of foods like Japanese and Spanish, nor the idea that uni needs bread to make it better, but I thought it was tasty.

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Photo by Melissa Hom.

 

 

Linguine with uni at Basta Pasta. I don’t usually like fusion foods like Japanese and Italian, but I crave this dish. It’s very satisfying with the uni mixed into the sauce and hanging out in-between noodles.

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Photo from Yelp.

 

 

Uni Lover at Wasan. I did not make this name up, it is actually on their menu. It’s a generous piece of uni on an uni cracker. I just had this for dinner tonight, followed by an uni don. It fulfilled my craving.

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Photo by Niko.

 

 

And here are the places I have not tried, but are on my uni radar.

15 East (uni sushi)

Sushi Nakawaza (uni sushi, best of NY Mag)

Toqueville (sea urchin and angel hair carbonara)

Soto (various possibly fussy sushi dishes, named unipalooza by former NY Times food critic Frank Bruni)

Neta (uni porridge)

Red Gravy (bucatini with sea urchin, and a skip from my home)

And many of these are ridiculously over-indulgent, but I can’t deny my curiosity is piqued.

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These eggs have been popping up out of the corner of my eye. There is something about giving a group of artists the same constraint that feels very revealing. And, lovely that it’s 100% for charity for two very different causes — NYC school children and the endangered Asian elephant and its habitat. (Or maybe not that different at all?)

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