You see before you everything I bought on my trip to New York, with the exception of a postcard (and, of course, things eaten on the spot). It was a MOMA postcard- of a Picasso still life, cubist, predominantly green. It is a favorite of mine, and I was delighted to see the real thing, for the first time. It was every bit as terrific as I thought it would be. I was going to put the card in a little frame and have it on my desk at work, so I could look at it all day long. However, I uncleverly lost it on the way home. Phooey. I must say though, that this has been the only bit of unpleasantness I've met up with in the past week. Which is pretty much a record.
My excellent cousin L. has been visiting from England, and I have been on vacation from work. We went to New York, and met up with C. who came in from Connecticut to join us in hedonistic activities. Since coming back, we have been doing all sorts of good things around Pittsburgh, too. Though it is late November, the weather has been insanely sunny and temperate the whole time. Today, after attending my mother's 82nd birthday party/lunch, we walked coatless to (and then around) the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh's recently renovated Victorian greenhouses. These faceted and domed glass houses have rooms full of horticultural exotica and are home to the Christmas flower show. We've been leading this sort of charmed life all week.
I've been smug about keeping the retail activity pretty well under control, by sublimating most of my shopping impulses helping L. pick gifts to take back with her. (I did actually break down today and buy some really beautiful earrings. They look like a little sprig of rosemary, with thin needles of greeny bronze, and each needle on a tiny hinge sort of thing, so they move slightly and feel soft when you touch them. I was ambushed by them, not expecting to be accosted by beautiful earrings at a garden shop-I'm sure you will see that I was more or less helpless, under the circumstances.)
When I asked some New Yorkers among you for food shopping recommendations, Kalustyan's was easily the most often mentioned. Bakerina, for example, noted that I could not really justify passing up a shop selling 60 different kinds of rice. So true. I really can't begin to describe how wonderful this place-indeed the whole street-smells. It is a paradise with a selection of so many kinds of pistachio nuts, olives, dried apricots-everything- that they cannot be counted, and it's all beautiful. Small, with narrow aisles-I'm not at all sure how they got all that stuff in there. Well worth the squeeze.
Three of the four selections are from Kalustyans. I was overwhelmed, and decided to get just a few things I had wanted, and failed to find in Pittsburgh. They are:
1) pumpkin seed oil (mentioned by Deborah Madison as an addition to a winter squash soup, and sounding interesting),
2) rose syrup (because I've recently discovered I like flavoring food with flowers sometimes),
3) grains of paradise- a spice resembling, in some ways, pepper- described with enthusiasm by Amanda Hesser, to the point of making me very curious,
and from the Greenmarket:
4) a bunch of culinary grade, unsprayed lavender (because I like baking with lavender, very much).
I haven't done a thing with any of my loot yet, but indeed to soon. If you have any information or suggestions on the subject items, I'd appreciate hearing about them. Tomorrow, I have to go back to work. L. is in the air, on her way home. At least the weather is still unseasonally charming.