Friday, October 25, 2013

Moses Gates: Hidden Cities...

Urban Adventurer Explores the Secret 
Places of the World's Great Cities

Moses Gates is not your typical tourist with a passion for cities. 
He is an urban planner, a licensed New York City tour guide, and a visiting assistant professor of demography at Pratt Institute.
He has an adventurous streak that leans more towards Indiana Jones than that of a starry-eyed Smartphone carrying photo-snap-happy tourist from the Midwest where he grew up.
Gates is not searching for the Ark of the Covenant or evading Nazis like Jones, Harrison Ford's character in the movie Raiders of the Lost Arc.

He is not satisfied sauntering across the Brooklyn Bridge to marvel at its beauty and enjoy the views of the New York Bay and the lower Manhattan skyline. It is just as hard to picture Gates entering the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, or any other noted world destination in as a normal tourist.

Why? Gates thinks differently. While most people are content to walk across a famous bridge, Gates wants to climb it. He wades, no he dives head first into the underbelly of the cities he visits and unveils their hidden secrets and shares his stories with us.

In his book Hidden Cities: Travels to the Secret Corners of the World’s Great Metropolises; A memoir of Urban Exploration we learn Gates is a thrill-seeking urban adventurer with a wanderlust for going where very few people have ventured before him.

In the first sentence of page one of his insightful and humorous memoir he writes,
“I have just rung the bell of Notre Dame.”

Gates and several companions, including his best friend and the ultimate urban explorer Steve Duncan, are drinking at a Paris bar when they decide to investigate the city’s 1200-plus miles of underground canals. After squeezing through a locked gate they walked for a mile and-a-half before they stopped realizing it is tough to wade through a sewer without rubber boots and an air meter (this is an adventure for another day). They exited the sewer by popping open a manhole cover. Next they opt for the Cathedral of Notre Dame and its bell tower. They reach the bell not with a tour guide or by ascending the 387 steps of its narrow spiral stairwell but by scaling its exterior. They climb its gargoyles; flying buttresses and a makeshift ladder at night, in the rain, and tipsy.

His adventures span four continents. He has dodged third rails in five of the world’s ten largest subway tunnels including New York, Stockholm, Paris, London and Moscow. He has roamed the catacombs, water and sewer tunnels of these cities as well as Naples, Rome, and Odessa. Besides the Brooklyn Bridge he has climbed the George Washington, Williamsburg, Manhattan, Hell’s Gate Bridges (Gates calls it a beast of a bridge and a direct inspiration for the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge) and the Moscow Bridge in Kiev. Climbing is challenging and dangerous, especially at night, his preferred time in order to lessen chances of getting arrested.

There is only one way up the Brooklyn Bridge he writes: “climb the suspension cables, navigate around the suicide guards – metal gates on the cables designed to keep people from scaling them…then balance on the cables, hang on to the guide wires for dear life, and hope a gust of wind doesn’t come along.”
Gates writes about these dangers and his adventures in a casual matter-of-fact style like someone visiting the Statue of Liberty or the pyramids for the first time. His tales are funny. He writes about his “Sex on the Bridge Club” and his own rendezvous on the Williamsburg Bridge, of getting karate kicked in the face by a homeless woman named Brooklyn at 2 in the morning at her birthday party in the train tunnel under Riverside Park in New York City, and walking the streets of Rio de Janeiro dressed in drag and losing his negligee after getting drenched in a downpour.

 Gates gives us the history of the places he visits and he sheds light on his world one of squatters living in a vacant mansion in San Paolo, teenagers occupying Cold War bunkers under Odessa and much more. He writes about an informal network of students, travelers, historians, adventurers including legends with names like Dsankt and Siologen, members of Cave Clan, a group formed in Australia whose purpose is to climb urban storm drains. He writes about graffiti artists some of who have created masterpieces in the catacombs of Paris and in the train tunnels and unused subway stations in New York.

With Gates we enter ancient Roman ruins in the sewers beneath the Capitoline Hills in Rome, and German bunkers in Paris. We explore the city’s catacombs and wind past ossuaries filled with skulls and bones neatly stacked together. We discover the tomb of Philibert Aspairt who disappeared in the Paris catacombs in 1793. Legend says his torch expired while searching for the wine cellars of the Chartreux monks.  We travel through many rooms and a cave several stories high, and sliver through two-foot-high tunnels.

This is the ultimate reference book for those travelers whose curiosities know no boundaries. For the rest of us it may not inspire us to risk our lives climbing famous landmarks but it will certainly stir our interest to learn about the secrets of our hidden cities.

Buy his book: Hidden Cities: A Memoir of Urban Exploration
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, Paperback Edition 2013
Follow Moses Gates on Twitter.

•His notes at the end of the book are an invaluable resource. His black/white and color photographs are priceless. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dance at Bougival

The Frick Collection:
Dancing with Pierre-Auguste Renoir... 

Dance at Bougival

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art are special places. Millions of people come here from all over the world to explore their treasures. It is exhilarating to visit these museums anytime but especially when there is a major event, even if it means waiting on long lines.

I crawled with hundreds of people through the Iris & B. Gerald Canter Exhibition Hall at The MET in the summer of 2011. During a three month stretch almost 662,000 people visited the late Alexander McQueen’s “Savage Beauty" exhibit. They came to see his “bumster” trouser, three-point origami frockcoat, S&M jewelry, spray-painted dresses, futuristic styles, a life size hologram of Kate Moss, and many more of his ultra creative costumes. They came not out of sympathy for the famed British fashion designer who committed suicide at 40, a year before his exhibit opened, but to be dazzled by his uninhibited sense of fashion, art, history, and workmanship.

In 2012 I saw CindySherman’s Retrospective at MOMA, also heavily attended. It featured more than 170 photographs, all self-portraits that traced her artistic career from the 1970’s to the present. A master of disguise Sherman dressed as a faded movie star, sex kitten, naïve ingénue, straight-laced secretary, housewife and more. She accomplished this by physically altering herself with wigs, costumes, makeup, and prosthetic-body parts. She meshed art, cultural influences, pornography, fairy tales and horror films. In one work she appeared as Grandma Moses in a banana leather jacket and a sky-blue taffeta, another as a Renaissance Lady in an elegant dress, jewel adorned hair with a fake nose.

No exhibit inspired me more than the Renoir, Impressionism and Full-Length Painting at The Frick Collection in 2012.

Small in size, it featured just nine large life-size paintings, several measuring almost six-foot in height displayed in the Frick’s East Gallery, a long classical styled room with an arched portal, elegant keystone, fluted Ionic pilasters. Colin B. Bailey, the Frick’s Associate Director brought these works together for the first time. Built around The Frick’s La Promenade (1875-76), a mother walking in the park with her two young daughters, the museum’s most important impressionist work, the exhibit studied Renoir’s portraits and subjects from the mid-1870’s to the mid 1880’s. 

The other eight paintings included La Parisienne (1874) from the National Museum of Art, Cardiff; The Umbrellas (1881-1885) from The National Gallery of London; Dance in the City and Dance in the Country (1882-83) from the Musee d’Orsay, Paris; The Dancer (1874) from the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Madame Henriot “en travesty(1875-76) from the Columbus Museum of Art; Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando (1879) from the Art Institute of Chicago; and my favorite, the reason I write this article, Dance at Bougival (1882-83) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

Born at Limoges, France in 1841, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is considered one of the great artists of the French Impressionists movement. The size of these paintings and their bright colors gives the illusion his characters, specifically the trio of paintings of dancing couples, are ready to lurch off the canvass. But Bougival is why I returned to the Frick three times with a different friend each visit.

Bougival drips with gusto, life, and lust. It is earthy and sexy. The outdoor setting – painted in a studio - is a Sunday country-dance near Paris. Art critics chat about the dirt floor littered with cigarette buts, chestnut trees and people drinking beer from plain mugs sitting at an oak table in the background, but the male dancer’s passion and assertiveness mesmerized me. Standing in this very large wing with maybe only fifteen other visitors I am free to savor Bougival from many vantage points, and I too, wanted to whisk my partner, all three, around this beautiful gallery.

The young woman in Bougival, is Suzanne Valadon, a trapeze artist turned model, Renoir’s one-time lover, and mother of artist Maurice Utrillo whose father was rumored to be one of several men including Renoir. The gent, a working-man, with clunky brown boots and straw hat, holds her firmly against his body and stares intently at her beautiful face and head wrapped in a long flowing red bonnet. She looks away, her eyes cast downward in a shy yet flirtatious way as if desire stirs within her as they dance oblivious to the festivities around them.

Standing in front of Dance at Bougival I think of Leonard Cohen’s song….

"Dance Me To The End Of Love"

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

The Renoir exhibit  completed its United States run September 3, 2013 at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Paul Busse's Enchanted City: Creator of the 
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show 

Macy's Flagship Store Herald Square

I am sitting at my desk on a beautiful afternoon in August. This day has all the ingredients of what I call a million dollar day: brilliant blue skies, a few puffy white clouds, gentle winds, and comfortable temperatures.

Something is wrong with me. Instead of planning weekend getaways, beach outings, picnics, exploring New York City on bike or foot, kayaking on the Hudson, camping, and hiking I have lingering thoughts of the recent 2012 Christmas holidays.  No I am not daydreaming about Santa Claus, the Rockefeller Christmas tree, Times Square on New Year’s Eve, or Macy’s Herald Square’s Toyland.

What makes me smile is the New York Botanical Garden’s holiday train show. I went there in early January. I frowned when I saw a long line of people with hundreds of kids waitingto enter the Garden’s sprawling Victorian style Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

 Empire State, Chrysler, Met Life (5 Madison Sq.), St.Patrick's

Upon entering the Conservatory I realized I had entered an Oz-like world one filled with a Lilliputian version of a New York City featuring many current landmarks and several long forgotten ones as well. All were crafted from natural materials – berries, pinecones, bark, beechnuts, seeds, twigs, pistachio shells, sea grape leaves, eucalyptus buds, and palm tree husks.

The New York Botanical Train show is the work of Landscape architect Paul Busse. He has built over 140 structures. The smallest is an 8-inch-high town house. The tallest is the 14-foot replica of the Brooklyn Bridge (although trains zip across his version). Current landmarks include the New York Public Library, Yankee Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and City Hall. Lesser-known ones such as the Bronx’s Edgar Allen Poe cottage, Wave Hill House and Van Cortlandt House are also on display.

Clark Mansion 79th & Fifth Avenue

Busse pays tributes to some of the city’s long forgotten buildings as well. There are replicas of the magnificent 1907 Clark Mansion at 77th and Fifth Avenue. The 121-room, 31-bath building with swimming pool, considered the avenue’s most incredible private home, stood for only 20 years. There is also Eero Saarinen’s futuristic 1962 TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport, and McKim Meade & White’s marvelous Penn Station, torn down in 1964 to make way for Madison Square Garden, an office tower and a now dismal train station. Busse’s Penn Station is about 20 square feet. The roof is made of magnolia, pinecone scales and columns of honeysuckle.
Original Penn Station, 31 to 33 Street - Seventh to Eight Ave.

Paul Busse, 63, is more than just a landscape architect. He is a master builder with a unique vision for creating enchanting venues. Busse’s company, Applied Imagination, with a staff of about 20 people including his son Brian, and his nephew Jason, have built similar exhibits across the country. His works are on display at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the United States Botanic Garden in Washington D.C., and the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia.
Fourteen-foot replica of the Brooklyn Bridge with trains

At the New York exhibit Busse offer more than just great buildings. There are late 1800’s American steam engine trains, streetcars, freight trains and trolleys travelling over a quarter of mile of tracks spread out over the course of the entire exhibit moving over bridges and trestles, through tunnels, past waterfalls, streams, the Conservatory’s reflecting pool, and old train stations.

Over 200,000 people have visited the seasonal exhibit since it began in 1992.
The 2012 exhibit featured for the first time: the Brooks Brothers Madison Avenue flagship store, LED lights for Yankee Stadium, and Penn Station, which took over 1000 hours to build.

The 2013 Holiday Train show is less than five months away. Check the New York Botanical Garden’s website for info their events and educational programs.

Photos by Rudi Papiri

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Silvano Lattanzi...From Italy to Madison Avenue 

             The Fine Art of Shoe Making

In the1953 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Marilyn Monroe, whisks about the set pursued by a dozen handsome suitors in tuxedoes as she sings “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” Richard Burton knew this. In 1968 he gave his wife Elizabeth Taylor a 33-carat diamond, and the following year a 69-carat diamond.

Not everyone is Elizabeth Taylor. Not everyone can wear Harry Winston diamonds. Not everyone has a husband or paramour like Richard Burton.

After diamonds I say shoes are a girl’s best friend. Think Cinderella and her glass slipper; or Imelda Marcos, and her 2000 pairs of shoes; or Sex in the City’s Carrie Bradshaw who had hundreds of shoes and who made Manolo Blahnik a household name. 

Would Macy’s Herald Square set aside 63,000 square feet of space on its redesigned second floor and offer 250,000 pairs of shoes, if women and shoes were not best friends? Would Sak’s Fifth Avenue open a shoe emporium on the eighth floor and double the size of its inventory? This floor is so big it has its own postal zip code.

Enough about the ladies let's focus on the guys. Recently I stopped into several stores. Dudes like shoe too. They bought Nikes, Vans, Diesel sneakers, Tommy Bahama Sandals, Quicksilver Flip Flops, Timberland, Rockport, Hush Puppies, Geox, Ecco, Skechers; moving up the shoe chain Cole Haan, Allen Edmond, Ferragamo and Gucci.

Silvano Lattanzi Madison Avenue 
Then there are dudes who really love shoes. They visit the sultan of shoemaking, Silvano Lattanzi, a relative newcomer to New York. Lattanzi opened his boutique here in early 2001 but he is hardly a novice. He is a master craftsman and designer. He has created elegant high-end off-the rack and handmade shoes for over 40 years.  He opened his first boutique near Rome’s fashionable Via Condotti in1992. Lattanzi has shops in Milan, Moscow, St. Moritz, Beijing, and Shanghai.

I first discovered Lattanzi footwear while power walking on Madison Avenue one night three years ago. I scooted past Calvin Klein, Barney’s, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren appreciating their stunning fashion displays.

I only stopped when I came to the windows of Silvano Lattanzi’s and his small shop. I was fascinated by the hand-stitched sole of a shoe perched in front of a coffee table sized book opened to a photo spread of an old-time cobbler at work. A work of art, I thought.

Old World Shoemaking High End Prices
Lattanzi’s soles are hand sewn and require more than 240 stitches for each foot. The parallel double stitches have the same length. The miniscule holes are equidistant. It takes seven to 14 days, 30 hours of work and over 200 different steps to finish a pair of shoes.
Bespoke shoes take six to eight weeks depending on the humidity and weather.

About twenty-six cobblers produce 2500 pairs of shoes annually at his factory in Le Marche Italy near the Adriatic. They use century old techniques: wetting the leather on a last, hours of stretching, sewing a leather welt and shank to the upper part and then attaching it to the sole. They are made of alligator, crocodile lizard, ostrich, antiqued calfskin and cordovan shell. His shoes are costly. Off-the-rack wingtips costs
about $3200. Sneakers are a bargain at $1200. Custom made shoes start around $5300 and soar to $18,000. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eric Clapton are customers.

Lattanzi is not just about men. Uma Thurman and Patty Smith are customers too.
Women’s crocodile boots cost $25,000.
Silvano Lattanzi, 905 Madison Avenue between near 73rd Street; 212-734-2962
Photos by Rudi Papiri

Monday, April 8, 2013

Paley Park, St. Luke in the Fields, St. John's...
Manhattan's Peaceful Open Spaces

Finding a quiet outdoor space in Manhattan is as challenging as Indiana Jones search for the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The ear-shattering blasts of horns and sirens and the deafening roar of construction trucks and buses make it impossible to have a conversation without shouting.
The city is an exciting place but we need a quiet zone to escape the madness.

Of course there is Central Park with its rolling hills, expansive meadows, and rowboat lake and the beautiful but crowded Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library on 42nd Street.

Locating a small intimate outdoor space is not hopeless. You just have to know where to go.
Here are several to visit:

Paley Park

Paley Park 
Located on the site of the legendary Stork Club where the city’s high society dined from 1934 to 1965, Paley Park is one of the finest vest-pocket parks in the world according to the Project for Public Spaces.
Opened in 1967 as a private/public space and financed by the William S. Paley Foundation (Paley, late CBS chairman) it offers a reprieve from crowded Fifth Avenue. 

Its beauty is not apparent when you first see this narrow rectangular space. Once you ascend the steps and walk past tall ornamental gates you feel its magic. Ivy covers the east and west walls. Seventeen locust trees create a canopy over the park. The unique feature is a 20-foot high cascading waterfall at the back wall. The falls, which are lit at night, generate 1800 gallons of water per minute. The gushing water blocks all street noise. Iron mesh chairs and tables are moveable. 

A concession stand serving soup, sandwiches and hot dogs is hidden to the right of the entrance.
Paley Park: 3 East 53rd Street between Madison and Fifth.

Garden of St. Luke

Garden of St. Luke in the Fields
Even in the West Village with its charming townhouses dating back to the 1800’s and quaint streets there is a need for a quiet space. St. Luke’s, built in 1822, on land donated by Clement Clarke Moore, has an idyllic garden. The church became a mission of Trinity Episcopal Church in 1891 and remained so until 1976. The present building was reconstructed after a 1981 fire.

Hidden behind a high brick wall and an iron gate is a lush pastoral garden that wraps around the church. Tall trees, colorful gardens, four stone walkways, two passing under metal arches covered with vines and flowers creates a mini green oasis.
 St. Luke in the Field: 487 Hudson Street between Barrow and Christopher Streets
Prayer Garden St John's

Prayer Garden at The Church of St. John the Baptist
Walk through the doors of the Brutalist style monastery, of the Franciscan Capuchin Friars on 31st street, past administrative offices and up the steps or ramp to the church you will find a small sanctuary. 

The silence of this garden is in sharp contrast to the heavily congested streets and bedlam generated by its neighbors Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. The sun-filled garden is in a walled off space between the two buildings. It has plants, flowers, shrubs, palm trees, stone and wrought iron benches and an oval two-tier fountain filled with gold fish during the warmer months. 

Officially known as the Padre Pio prayer garden there are statues, candles and plaques with meditative words. All are welcome.
St. John the Baptist’s Church:  210 West 31st Street.

Public Plaza World Wide Plaza

World Wide Plaza Public Plaza
 Mid-block on West 49th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, on the site of the old Madison Square Garden, is a large urban space located between World Wide Plaza One and Two, commercial and residential towers respectfully.  

The park has over 40 trees including 20 Japanese Zelkovas, and 16 Honey locusts. There is large fountain called The Four Seasons designed by the late sculptor Sidney Simon. Four female statues hold up a huge globe. There are over one hundred moveable chairs and tables. The plaza has tworestaurants. It is accessible from 49th and 50th Streets. It is spacious and a great place to enjoy blue-sky days.
World Wide Plaza Park – mid block 49-50th Streets west of Eighth Avenue.

Urban Space Eventi

Eventi Urban Space
Behind the luxury high-rise Eventi Hotel Chelsea you will find a long urban plaza. The space, part of the hotel, is open to the public. Built in a minimalist style it has a reflecting pool, 2 weeping European Birch and 15 Honey Locust trees. There are 55 moveable chairs and tables. Brighton Food, a beach-themed food court, connects to the plaza. What makes this space special is the 20-foot wide TV screen attached to the west wall high above the space. All major sporting and awards shows are shown.
Eventi: 851 Avenue of the Americas between 29 & 30th Streets.

Try this great city APP -  NYC Open Spaces - an easy way to find an ideal outdoor or indoor public  space. Free! Available on iPhone, iPod touch iPad.

Photos by Rudi Papiri

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

         Arthur Avenue, La Marqueta, Essex 
               and Moore Streets Markets: 
                   A Taste of Old New York 

Entrance to La Marqueta under Metro North's Tracks
Fiorello LaGuardia, a three-term mayor of New York, reformed a corrupt city government and its Tammany Hall leaders. He served the city during the Great Depression and World War II. A progressive he championed the working and immigrant classes and he implemented many changes to improve their quality of life.  

Years ago vendors sold goods and produce from pushcarts. Scores of carts lined city streets, not just one or two per block as you see today. This caused severe congestion and posed a threat to police and fire response time. Reformers balked about the unsanitary conditions. LaGuardia opened five food markets so peddlers could sell their goods indoors. Four remain open today. Visit, shop, savor their diversity and capture the immigrant experience of old New York.

Rainbo's Fish Market; Essex Farm Fruits and Vegetables 
• Essex Street Market: In its early days it catered to the large Jewish and Italian immigrant communities who lived in nearby tenements of the Lower East Side. Today it has the best selection and most vendors (about 24) of the four markets. It bustles with activity.  The smells and displays of the artisan breads, cheeses, pastries, organic meats and fishes will mesmerize you.

This block long building has several restaurants including Brooklyn Taco Company, Essex serving traditional Jewish and Latin cuisines, and Shopsin’s General Store specializing in soups, sandwiches, Porto Rico Coffee roasted in Brooklyn, and Tra La La Juice Bar with its assortment of freshly made smoothies, muffins, and scones.

Other shops are New Star Fish, Rainbo’s Fish market, Formaggio of Essex with a fine selection of handcrafted cheeses, and specialty foods, and Ron-Sue’s Chocolates. Try the savory handmade truffles, bacon butter crunch or Bacorn (popcorn bacon). Stop by Pain D’Avignon whose bread and pastries are served at many A-list restaurants. Check out Aminova’s Barber Shop, a 2001 Village Voice Best, and Cuchifritos Art Gallery.

Location: Essex Street Market, 120 Essex Street @Delancey
Monday – Saturday 8 – 7 pm
Sunday – 10 – 6 pm
Tours: Call Susan Rosenbaum, of Melting Pot Tours, at 646-209-4724.
The future of this 72-year-old market at this location is doubtful. It is part of an urban renewal zone. Plans call for moving it south on Delancey Street.

Boaino Fruits and Vegetables and Mike's Deli in Rear
• Arthur Avenue Retail Market: New York’s most authentic Little Italy is longer centered in and on Mulberry Street. It is Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx, about a mile north of Yankee Stadium a few blocks south of Fordham University. Albanians and Latinos are the largest ethnic groups who live here but the stores and restaurants in this vibrant area are mostly Italian. In late 1940 when it opened on the site of a former sheep meadow, the market had 117 vendors squeezed into its small stalls. 

Today that number is far less but vibrant feel and tastes of old New York is strong. Stop by the Mount Carmel Gourmet Food Shop with its large selections imported pastas, tomatoes, sauces, oils and Italian specialty foods; Peter’s Meat Market sells Italian sausages and fine meats.

At La Casa Grande Tobacco Company buys handmade cigars. A large photo of the cast of the Sopranos smoking here hangs nearby. There is also Liberatore’s Garden Center, Boaino Fruits and Vegetables, Arthur Avenue Pasticceria, and Mike’s Deli and its huge selection of cheeses and specialty foods. Owner David Greco’s roots dates back to the market’s beginning and his grandparents butcher shop. “People return to the old neighborhood to shop every weekend. We get people from
New Jersey and Connecticut. People drop by after visiting the Bronx Zoo or the Botanical Gardens.” Greco said.

Enjoy the colorful characters, straight out of actor author Chazz Palminteri’s, A Bronx Tale, a Belmont native, which starred Robert DeNiro. Greco and the Market have appeared on the Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” where Greco bested Flay for "Best Eggplant Parmigiana."

Location: Arthur Avenue Retail Market, 2344 Arthur Avenue @187th St
Monday – Saturday 8 – 5pm; Closed Sunday
Tours: Arthur Avenue Tour from ICE

Pablo's Place: Blending the Story of PR Food and Culture
• Moore Street Market: Opened in 1941 the market serves Bushwick’s large Mexicans, Dominican and Puerto Ricans and growing artists communities. Artists have moved into the old industrial loft buildings over the past decade.  Shops include Perez Tailors, American Coffee Shop. Sit at their counter to enjoy tasty Mexican coffee and food. 

Shop at Abby Food Market or dine at the popular Ramonites Dominican Restaurant – tables nearby. There is a religious herbal and botanical store, a Latin Music Shop whose upbeat music fills the market. 

You must visit Pablo at his four-seat counter restaurant he opened three weeks before this interview in December. Pablo had worked for a non-profit before embarking on his new career. He talked about Puerto Rican cuisine with the authority of a television Top Chief.

His explanation how Puerto Rican, sausages, puddings, and other national dishes differ from neighboring Latin American countries would make Ruth Reichl stop and take notes.  “My mother taught me. I cooked for my seven brothers,” Pablo said. “I want to promote Puerto Rican food and sell it with my country’s art and culture.”

Known as La Marqueta de Williamsburg it almost closed in 2007 but with the city’s help the market is back and expanding. It has partnered with Health First. Events are staged around all the major holidays. There is a Moore Street Market blog. During the holidays Arts in Bushwick co-sponsored an art and cookie decorating party. Plans call for turning a vacant lot on Moore Street into an urban farm and building a commercial kitchen to entice new vendors to fill empty spaces.

Location: Moore Street Market 110 Moore Street between Graham Avenue and Humboldt Street. Monday – Thursday 8 – 6 pm; Saturday 8 to 7 pm; Sunday 10 – 5 pm
Tours: by Cindy VandenBosch of Turnstile Tours 

Breezy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill and Tables 
• La Marqueta: In its heyday the market, which opened in 1936, stretched from 111th to 116th streets and had 500 vendors. It catered first to the Jewish and Italian residents who lived nearby, then to the large influx of Puerto Ricans who came to the city in 1940’s and 50’s and settled in East Harlem and the South Bronx.

This once bustling market sits beneath the Metro North elevated train tracks on Park Avenue.
After years of decline and false starts the market reopened a couple of years ago with help from the city. 

Building Four of the five building complex has several businesses including Breezy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill from the Hudson Valley with their free range pork, chicken sage ravioli, fruits, pies and sandwiches. Buerre & Sel, a cookie specialty shop with booth at The Essex Market and bakes on site, sells its scrumptious Coco Cayenne, Cranberry Spice and Espresso Chip cookies and much more. 

Ethnic Harlem is there with Mama Grace’s Afro Caribbean Food selling pork snout, salt and link fish, and healing oils. The Urban Garden Center, across the street on Park Avenue, has a 20,000 sq. operation here. Hot Bread Kitchen Almacen sells an assortment of ethnic breads, pastries and foods from the market’s on-site food start-up incubator. It is the first retail shop of HBK Incubates a program that helps fledgling business start-ups run by women and immigrants. It provides a shared space with a commercial kitchen space and refrigerators. Culinary and business support is offered.

A second building will open early 2013.  The well reviewed Nordic Preserves Fish and Wildlife has just opened. 
John Colon, who manages the Breezy Hill, said,  “This is all new and a lot can and will happen here. “I remember coming here as a boy with my mother. It was an vibrant part of the city’s history and El Barrio’s.”
Location: La Marqueta (El Barrio/East Harlem) 1590 Park Avenue at 115th Street. Monday – Wednesday 8 – 5 pm; Thursday – 8 – 6pm; Friday – Saturday 10 – 6pm; closed Sunday

Photos: By Rudi Papiri