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On the Prowl: The Big Apple

Times Square, Manhattan. © Charles & Mary Love

Because we lived in Manhattan for 15 years, return visits always feels like  homecomings. Each time, we  explore new areas of the city.  In October, we went back for a family wedding and to research a magazine story. The autumn weather was sunny and warm with a light, crisp breeze, the kind of energizing weather that brings out  New Yorkers’  natural joie de vivre.

Breakfast at Sarabeth’s (www.sarabeth.com)has always energized us for a day on a day on the town, prowling NYC’s  museums, galleries, restaurants and parks.  In fact, we’ve been frequenting Sarabeth’s since the owner, Sarabeth Levine, opened her first, tiny bakery on 80th and Broadway in 1981. The rest is history.

Beginning with her family’s 200-year-old recipe for orange apricot marmalade, she and her husband opened a jam factory, a bakery café in Chelsea (that prepares  jams, cookies, etc. for take-out or mail order) and, over time, five restaurants in the city (plus one in Key West). Her newest–and largest restaurant just opened in Tribeca. Fresh porridge “Three Bears Style” with honey and fruits, “Goldilocks” eggs (scrambled with salmon, cream cheese and chives)—and the legendary pumpkin muffins—are but a few of the culinary wonders here. Though Sarabeth serves three meals daily, breakfast is still our favorite.

The Metropolitan Museum (www.metmuseum.org) greeted us with many treasures on this trip. Alfred Stieglitz’s personal collection of photographs and paintings was on display as were exquisite new exhibits of African art (Heroic Africans) and miniature paintings from India (Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100-1900).

Among the highlights of the Indian miniatures is a painting by 17th-century artist, Farrukh Beg, titled A Sufi Sage. The sage, rendered in incredible detail, is reminiscent of representations of a melancholic Christ, shouldering the world’s burdens.  Most memorable in the African exhibit was a room of Hemba tribal woodcarvings from the Congo— all very expressive representations of eminent male figures.

As for Stieglitz, he was known better as an early 20th-century photographer and art dealer than as a collector (although, surprisingly, we now know he owned some 600 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints). So it was fascinating to see—not only fine photographs by masters such as Edward Steichen, Heinrich Kuhn, Clarence White and F. Holland Day— but also paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Georgia O’Keefe and many others in his collection. All of these were gradually given to various museums in his lifetime and by his wife, Georgia O’Keefe, after his death.

These exhibits will be open until early 2012. Check them out if you have time. Also worth seeing are the 1,000 works of Islamic art—one of the most comprehensive collections in the world—now on display in expanded, renovated galleries.

No time for opera, dance or theatre because of our wedding-related commitments. But there’s always this winter or spring 2012!

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