Friday, September 30, 2011

Street Art: A Glimpse Inside a City’s Heart

Street Art: A Glimpse Inside a City’s Heart Whenever I travel, I have my camera nearby. I am forever a photographer of cities; I rarely record who I was with or what sights we visited. Instead, I attempt to find the breath of a city, the flow, and the people of it. More often than not, I find the most showing examples of pride and place by photographing street art. My father will never see it as art, claiming that graffiti ruins a city, shows disrespect for the buildings and integrity of a place. While the defacing of property isn’t really a selling point for me, I look past it to see the art of it.

I love street art; I find it compelling and drastic. It is the result of someone so driven to tell a story that just putting it on paper does not suffice. It must be made public. I’ll spend more time on a side street with interesting walls than I will walking through a curated show sometimes (seriously, I did the Met in an hour). Graffiti tells you the humor of a place, the struggle, and, I find, what the underrepresented need to say. It’s like MSNBC for the underground, a forum taken to say your soapbox piece. The revolution will not be televised because you will read it on the walls of each city.


Having lived in West Oakland, CA for so long, I grew accustomed to the Gift Giver popping up at every turn. The first “Gift Givers” were written in plain, legible type, in spray paint, accompanied by a simple sad face. Not emoticon sad, more like finger puppet sad. I didn’t know the story behind it when it first started popping up, and in turn my imagination ran wild. I imagined stories similar to The Giving Tree, the Shel Silverstein book, about someone or something that always gives and never receives. In West Oakland, a neglected and disadvantaged neighborhood that is fighting like a bantam to overcome the such obstacles as poor air quality, minimal services, and limited access to fresh food, such graffiti can resound with meaning. It turns out that the meaning is entirely different than what I interpreted it to be, and is quite a statement on the state of things in and of itself, but that’s the beauty of such art, it becomes part of your experience through your own filter.

 Gift Giver in West Oakland

A few years back my sister and I traveled to the mecca of street art- East Berlin. Not only are the remnants of the Berlin wall stupefying, but the art on their surfaces provides additional layers of meaning. Among the plethora of names, dates, and “this guy was here’s”, are snippets of the past. Murmurs and declarations alike, this art was the cry out from someone who wasn’t given a voice. Many people’s voices, in this case, as the wall filled with art and hope and became a symbol for overcoming great obstacles. And indeed, what Berlin screamed to me was that it was grabbing freedom, art, and self-expression by the lapels and running wild with it. This city felt more hopeful and present than any I’ve ever experienced. Among the miles of wall remnants, I was stopped cold by the singular and simple “This too shall pass” written quietly in small, heartbreaking print.

Remnants from the Berlin Wall
Street art was made famous by artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey, artists whose work is now recognizable and the subject of museum shows. Banksy’s work, particularly, gives a message and a sense of place. On the Palestinian side of the dividing wall, a stencil of a young girl using balloons to lift her over the wall is portrayed, along with a ladder spanning the height of the wall and cracks in it to show a tropical paradise on the other side. There’s a pattern here; that public art arises wherever people are divided, repressed, or silenced. It becomes a tool by which they can gain support. In addition to being beautiful, it is a way to draw attention to political issues.

Banksy in San Francisco

In other places, street art is just that: art with a very public home. I reached a piazza in Venice once where the sun shone brightly down on me after an alleyway of darkness, slowing me as I raised my face to meet its morning rays. I looked down and saw a stencil of a woman’s face raised to the sky, sunlit. This art reflects reality, causing the onlooker to pause and realize that each moment is worthy of capturing, for this type of art is no different from photography in that manner.

Venice sunlight

Around the corner from that plaza I found a blackbird on a bench, a cat on a bridge; graffiti that I would see duplicated around the city. It offers a continuous experience; much like how I saw Gift Giver all over my neighborhood, as a visitor I began to see the paths of other such artists by spying the cats around town.

Cats in Venice

My favorite street art doesn’t necessarily have a profound message. On an old house in West Oakland someone had written “Ira Glass + Terry Gross” among other tags and graffiti, which beyond being hilarious shows the preferences of the people. I don’t think there’s much NPR graffiti out there, so this tag seemed pretty special to me. I love a sketch of a man’s face, canalside, in Amsterdam, a little boy with a slingshot not far away, a girl with her cone-bearing dog in Berlin. Sometimes, it just feels like art. Art you’ve been lucky enough to catch on your journey.

In Amsterdam
Berliner and dog
Tricky Londoners
Free wall in Cambridge, MA

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Sparkling New York Moment

A Sparkling New York Moment It’s funny that sometimes what becomes routine and normal is often stripped of its true magic. I have been visiting New York City since I was a child, but more frequently lately, since my sister Jenna and her husband, Mitch, have relocated to the Chelsea neighborhood. I never take New York for granted; you cannot ignore the beauty and brilliance of this place, but the last few trips have been a bit more … predictable, shall I say. I tend to escape to New York to have time to write, to visit my favorite bookstore, to pluck my eyebrows in their stellar bathroom lighting, to get a massage, to watch So You Think You Can Dance (my very well educated and professional sister is obsessed), and to paint my toenails. These are not New York trips I take. I do not take advantage of the 4:00 am last call, the all-night subway, or the endless bars and clubs. What I do spend my time doing, however, is eating the best food, wandering the parks, and pretending I live there.

This past trip reminded me of what this city is capable of, though. There’s no complacency anymore; I have been reminded of the city’s glory and am newly enamored with it. My decision to relocate here was not decided this weekend, but it was set in stone.

We popped into a tiny breakfast and lunch joint, just tripping distance from my sister’s front door, that had just remodeled and started serving dinner. There are about twelve seats in this tiny, modern space, so I’m wary to tell you of its location and name, for fear of us never getting a table so easily again. I’ll just say it sits unassumingly behind a pizza shop, has high stools and tables, windows that open floor to ceiling to the sidewalk, and a short menu of pizzas, cheeses (burrata included), cured meats, crostinis, roasted seasonal vegetables, risotto of the day, and more. I loved the space, the food was perfectly simple, and the wine selection made us all happy, even with incredibly different tastes. By the time we left we were the only patrons, and the walk home was quick. My sister is afraid she’ll go there too frequently now; it’s dangerous to have something so satisfying so close. I argue that this is just another incredible benefit to this city. 

We grab the dog and head to the park, where my sister and I do cartwheels on the Astroturf-covered pond.  The park had just shown the US Open on a big screen, complete with bleachers and Astroturf seating. Thank you American Express, for sponsoring such a cool addition to the park.

Parks are now smoke- and worry-free

I wake in the morning to Mokey, the big, black Schnoodle (I have no idea how to spell that, but it’s a Schnauzer-Poodle cross) climbing on the bed. After coffee, we leash up and head to Madison Square Park. She frolics with the other dogs in the dog park while I watch the dismantling of the installation that has been there all summer. Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s sculpture of the head of his neighbor, a young girl with a long braid, has been occupying the central grass for the summer. Completely white, it stood quietly and docilely while picnickers watched and photographed. It was called “Echo” and indeed, it seemed to echo the calm of the park back to the revelers. I watched as the crane picked pieces of the head up from the grass, placing them carefully on a truck for shipping to its next location. I also made time to flirt with a cute blonde man who liked my sister’s dog.

Jaume Plensa's "Echo" 

Mokey and I walked to Idlewild Books, a travel book store on W19th between 5th and 6th, where I purchased the newest book by Elif Shafak, a very popular Turkish novelist. I wanted something that focused the story on Turkey, since I’m about to endeavor on a great long trip there next month. Already I have had to exercise self-discipline to put the book away in order to write, the story has me enveloped so entirely, so quickly.

I accompany Jenna and Mitch to Serafina, where the pizza is as thin as cardboard but tastes like heaven, for a pre-show drink. They are seeing The Book of Mormon and I Am Jealous. The show is expensive and sold out, so I don’t see it as an option to go. However, Mitch, being the sly dog he is, reminds me that tickets are available on the street…the nervous, law-abider in me surfaces and I don’t believe it’ll be so easy. He’s confident though. We head outside and lo, with some wheelin’ and dealin’, I’ve procured myself an eleventh-row center seat. No joke, I hit the absolute jackpot. I cancel my dinner plans for Korean fried chicken with my friend Tasia, and settle in right behind Timothy Hutton. I passed Sigourney Weaver on the way in, too.

Jenna and Mitch's view of the stage
My view of the stage (so much better!)

The show, written and directed by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame, is everything you’ve heard it to be. Brilliantly sung, perfectly casted, and alarmingly offensive. Nowhere else on Broadway (or any other theater, for that matter) have I heard such swearing and graphic anatomical and sexual references. It was awesome; this is a musical, after all, written to poke fun of the Mormon faith by the South Park guys, of course it’s going to be offensive. Hilariously offensive, that is. I won’t give away any details, but to see a show getting such acclaim while it’s still running with its original cast is a rare treat, especially in the 11th row center. I also totally fell in love with one of the cast members; Jason Michael Snow, you’re the cutest thing ever. We took the obligatory and ridiculous Times Square photo from the middle of the street and hopped on the train.

We finished our night at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, a place getting as much praise for its farm-to-table, organic and seasonal fair. We sat at the back bar with Heather, an aspiring food blogger, drinking Reisling and Pinot Blanc, feasting on tomato and watermelon gazpacho, a warm, field green salad with crispy proscuitto and a farm egg, goat cheese and strawberry salad, and corn off the cob with parmesan and jalapeno. We finished with a peach and blackberry galette with sweet corn ice cream. Top that.

This was a dreamy few days full of promise and good living. This is how life should be, it turns out; full of family, great food, parks, art, and local theater … even if your local theater isn’t on Broadway.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Epic Journey Awaits

An Epic Journey Awaits I am throwing caution to the wind and following my gut; I’m about to take the least planned expedition of all time. All of my time, anyway, thus far. I’ve come to a place in life where I can’t be bothered to do what I should do, like visit parents or apply for full-time employment, and instead plan to do what I want to do. What I could do. And friends, what I want to do is take my earnings and head east.

With my employment ending on October 15th and my freelance writing thriving on such trips, I’ll abandon Boston just as the leaf-peepers flood in and I will post up in Istanbul. Through AirBnB (you can’t scare me off with one poorly-timed press release!) I’ll have an apartment, or a room, in a central residential neighborhood. This will put me in skipping distance to anything I want to see: Haghia Sophia, the Bosporus, the Grand Bazaar, hamams, the city walls, and Europe and Asia in one place. I have the Lonely Planet Guide, and yes, will read parts of it eventually, but part of this excursion is to figure it out as I go. To get there and decide what feels right next.

Things I am very excited to see in Turkey are piling up though. I want to see the relatively new modern museum, Istanbul Modern, which will be hosting a Women Artists of Turkey exhibition called Dream and Reality. I want to ferry up the Bosporus and swim in the Black Sea. I’ll sail over the Sea of Marmara to visit Buyukada and see for myself a tiny island trapped in centuries past. I want to eat everything I can find, and not be fearful of lamb, spice, or new fish. I want to sit in a café, all day, and listen to Turkish being spoken around me. I’ll see the sites tourists are supposed to see, and hopefully more that most do not. In hopes of meeting locals, I’ll couchsurf and stay in neighborhoods less populated by hotels. I’ll see the fairy chimneys and cave hotels in Cappadocia, my friend James demanding I take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise to fully appreciate them. I’ll meet my friend Cengiz in Ankara, I’ll buy sandals in Bodrum, and I’ll swim in the Mediterranean and Aegean too. I also say all of this with barely having researched a thing; I’d rather not depend on large cities, when I get there, I’ll figure out how to get off the map.

Next, since proximity is very hard to argue with, I’ll ferry to and through Greek islands. Should I see Santorini? Mykonos? Crete? My friend Johanna says that in November, I should spend all my time in Crete, but I know I’ll not be able to say no to other islands once I am surrounded by them. What if I never come back? I’ll spend a day with Johanna in Athens, getting the local’s tour, then fly off to Dubrovnik, for I can’t imagine missing the opportunity to see Croatia again.

When I was last in Croatia, two years ago, I spent only a few days in Istria, on the very northwestern coast. Having learned more about the country since, my list of sites there is expanding. Starting in Dubrovnik, I’ll walk the walls and dip my toes in the Adriatic, walk the Stradun and day trip to the beach in Cavtat. From there I’ll see Hvar and Vis, islands off the Croatian coast, where weather permitting, I shall never leave the beach. Then, in quick or leisurely succession, I will venture on to Split, Zadar, and finally the Plitvice National Park. The lakes in Plitvice are among the more beautiful sites in the world—so I’m told— and while the photos I’ve seen are mostly taken during the lushness of summer, I’ll just have to use my vivid imagination in November.

From there I’ll beeline it to Ljubljana, Slovenia, because a recent New York Times article made it sound as if you’d be a fool to skip this city. I will walk the river and cross the many bridges, including Butcher’s Bridge with padlocked love messages attached. Here I’ll sit in cafes, listening to Slovene and pondering my travels. Will I have written much? Is there a book in here? Have I found something I’m looking for? Slovenia may be my last stop, with a jaunt over to the coastline and a day trip to Trieste (again, you can’t argue with proximity). I could be persuaded to go to Budapest, to Rome, to anywhere, really, should a travel partner entice me to do so. So, friends and readers, advice? Attractions I cannot miss? Food I’ll never forget? Volunteers to join me on this journey? Please send me your thoughts.

Cape Cod Woos You Back In Time

Cape Cod Woos You Back In Time I’ve been here only once before, and it was in March. Around these parts, March might as well still be December, for nothing is open, no residents have returned from their winter homes, and the chill still cuts too deeply to enjoy the scenery. This trip, however, revealed the Cape Cod one reads about, the one that inspires films and our vacationing hordes to return for its beauty. Although my trip was short, I had an experienced guide, a summer cabin to call our own, and perfect summer weather.

Sandwich is a tiny beach town on the north side of the peninsula, at the very beginning of the Cape. At first glance, it is a charmer. Driving down Route 6A East from Sandwich further down the Cape, little farms dot the scenery and handwritten signs outside of homes offer fresh muffins at 8:30 a.m. daily, Native Tomatoes for $2.49 a pound, and fresh homegrown corn. Permanent, professional signs outside of homes alert the traveler to the town’s woodworker, ironsmith, silver and goldsmith, and my favorite, the home of “Gentleman Farmer Clarke.” Businesses around here have names like the Whippletree, Plum Duff, the Pie Bird Bake Shop, See Saw Woodshop, and Salt Acres Barn Shop. The “cute” factor is almost overwhelming, except for the fact that this is real, people really live and work this way here. It is a community of complementary skills; the town silversmith really does work out of that house and one really can buy homemade muffins out of that person’s family kitchen.

I’ve come to meet my friend Mary for a day of beaching and true Cape introduction. A previous resident of East Harwich, she now stays in Sandwich at the newly purchased house of a family friend. The house, a shingled and blue shuttered two-room cabin, is perfect. On a little side street dirt road marked by a sign for “Singing Pines,” six tiny houses stretch back toward the woods. These are houses of yesteryear. Nearly miniature in size, I picture a blue Oldsmobile from the fifties pulling up to this little house, a smiling family disembarks and spends the summer here among the seagulls and waves. Much of Sandwich looks this way to me; tiny, sensibly sized houses, covered in the sea-air warn, light grey shingles, with clear paths to the beach abutting the property. These are homes that support your beach vacation, not compete with it for attention. Their tiny size sparks in me a feeling of bittersweetness; just like the craftsmen of the town advertising from their homes, these tiny houses offer a glimpse into the past. Life was more community-based then, we didn’t all hide in our giant homes so far from our neighbors, and didn’t all work in office parks.

Cape Cod beach cottages

We head to the beach just down the road, climbing over a giant dune to reveal the beautiful ocean before us. The water had a chill, but was warmer than the North Shore waters I’d swam in the day before. We waded and chatted, catching up and cooling off. A woman rides past on a paddleboard, tanned and bikinied, she smiles and offers the board for us to try. Mary hops on. I chat with this woman, Brazilian muralist Sandra DeCastro, who had just vacationed with her son in Cape Ann (up on the North Shore of Massachusetts) and was making her was back southward to New York when the hurricane hit. She pulled over to take refuge in a hotel for the night in Sandwich. Four days later she still couldn’t bring herself to leave the beauty of this place. They were leaving tonight though, they had to, school starts soon for her son, she said as she was attempting to convince herself more than us. She gazed back at the ocean.

Dunes leading to the Atlantic

We gathered our belongings and made our way into town, stopping at the Giving Tree Gift Shop and Sculpture Garden. Mary met with the owner, Judith, about her budding jewelry design talent and the possibility of selling at the shop. I gazed through their collection of local artists work; beautiful jewelry, all handcrafted into delicate, one of a kind designs. I plan to return, for there were the perfect wedding presents there for my sisters, necklaces of gold paillettes inscribed with “kiss me twice” and tiny love poems.

The garden behind the shop was what I was truly unprepared for though. We made our way around the shop and down a wooden staircase to enter into a bamboo- and sculpture-filled network of trails, bridges, pathways and streams. The wind filters through the bamboo, creating a faint whistling and breezy, papery sound, and the sound of traffic disappears. Little poems and quotes are posted along the trail, offering quips on peace, tranquility, love, nature… We amble along a raised wooden platform with a bamboo-obscured view until you reach the end. Here the openness of the marshland spreads out in both directions; grasses jutting up from the water, dappled light reflecting off the high tide current, giant unidentifiable birds perched on a railing. We follow the path to a covered bridge, pass through and photograph the love poem slipped among the roof boards, walk on. I climb a few steps, turn a corner, and I am surprised by a rope bridge swooping down in front of me. One at a time, we make our way across. I imagine a deep ravine beneath me and Sylvester Stallone or Kevin Bacon starring in this action movie. Alas, it was more tranquil than that.

Secret Sculpture Garden
Love poems in unlikely places

We meet Mary’s friend Matt, who I immediately love not only because he had bit parts in the movie One Crazy Summer, an 80s favorite, but because he leaves his windows down in his car and leaves it unlocked, has had white hair since he was 18, and brought Bocce balls, Veuve Cliquot, and an antique folding table to the beach. Yes, friends, we drank champagne, watched the sun set, and played Bocce on the beach. It was all very Gatsby-esque. We made our way back to the beach club, ate peanuts with some locals, and headed home. The stars were out in forces, crickets chirping, and I slept like a baby. I wake to an outdoor shower where the steam rises up into the pine trees, and head out for the local, morning muffins.

The sunset, Bocce and champagne

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rovinj, Croatia, Captures Heart and Belly

Rovinj, Croatia, Captures Heart and Belly We had the Croatia Lonely Planet Guide and chatted about which days we could get away to go see some of it, but hadn’t made definite plans. One afternoon, on our way back to our Dorsoduro apartment, located in the southwest corner of Venice, Italy, we popped in to the ferry terminal to check schedules and prices. With the odd hours of departures and arrivals, it turned out that our only options were to leave in two days at roughly 6 p.m., or in ten minutes. Either way our return trip would be at 6 a.m. Given my friend’s schedule, it was ten minutes to Croatia or nothing. We chose Croatia.

We bolted back to the apartment, grabbed bathing suits, a change of clothes, the Lonely Planet Guide, passports, toothbrushes and cash. We made it back with seconds to spare. We were off; a few hours in a ferry across the Adriatic and we would be in Istria, the northwest peninsular outpost of Croatia.

We passed the Lido, Venice’s beach island, where locals and tourists alike lounge around in the sun. The Giudecca, where we’d later sit to eat risotto and tiramisu; Murano and Burano off in the distance. Eventually we exited Italian waters toward a completely unknown and unplanned adventure.

Buildings of Rovinj

Being my mother’s daughter, I scoured the guide on our way, while my traveling friend napped contentedly. Rovinj—or Rovigno to Italians—a tiny town built on a hill directly on the coast of the Adriatic on the very northernmost part of the long Croatian border, was our destination. It is terracotta in color, led by a prominent tower rising above the town, and a fishing village still dependent on the sea. With nearby farms just inland, Rovinj, and Istria in total, are being noted as the Slow Food capital of the region. Slow Food, a movement started by Carlo Petrini years before, celebrates a slower approach to gastronomy: small, diversified farms, artisanal crafting of products, fair prices for the freshest of ingredients, a respect for the land, and an appreciation for foods prepared to highlight the true expression of their taste and place.  While initially fueled by a protest against a McDonald’s being built next to the Spanish Steps of Rome, the movement has grown to exemplify the celebration of simple, fresh food prepared with reverence and integrity. Chefs and restaurateurs like Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse, and Dan Barber, of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, have taken this philosophy and made it a true way of life in an effort to return to a relationship with food that our grandparents may recognize.

Fisherman pooling the day's catch

The ferry stopped at two ports before ours. Like Goldilocks, we felt that the first was too small, the second, too commercial, but the third, the port of Rovinj, was just right. We disembarked, walked the length of the dock, and were welcomed into a sardine festival. With hanging lights strung along the waterfront brightening the evening, tents and tables set up, and grills fired, Rovinjians were lined up for the fresh, local fish. Was I in heaven? Where was I? Talk about making a winning move in the first play. I love sardines.

Cafes, restaurants, and sardine eaters line the rocky coast

We scurried off to find shelter and lose our bags, planning to return to eat dinner. The slim streets of Rovinj are made of blocks of Istrian stone, the same stone that the city of Venice is built on. The white, smooth blocks connect building to building on meandering walking paths. Above you rise ancient stone buildings with working shutters, clothes lines linking the windows of neighbors, and warm light coming from open doors and windows. Our Lonely Planet guide leads us to Dario, of Casa Garzotto, whose bed and breakfast they recommended highly.

Istrian stone paths and terracotta buildings

Dario and his girlfriend, young, attractive, thirty-somethings are found in their well-lit café, where they apologetically tell us they have no vacancies. However, they have a friend that also rents an apartment, and Dario runs off to find her while we enjoy cappuccinos and our good luck.

Moments later, we have a beautiful, private apartment on a tiny path full of geraniums and Dario’s recommendation for dinner. We head back for sardines to find that the party is over. I forgive them their early retirement, appreciative that they celebrate such a fish at all. We amble, wide-eyed and excited, to Dario’s favorite restaurant, where we dine on langoustines, unpronounceable Croatian white wine, and yes, sardines. This is the perfect first day of travel.

Southern port side

M. Wells, Queens’ Quebeco-American Diner, To Close

M. Wells, Queens’ Quebeco-American Diner, To Close All’s well at M. Wells, but only for another few weeks.

M. Wells, the Long Island City diner headed by Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon alum Hugue Dufour and partner Sarah Obraitis, is closing at the end of the month after only being in business for a year! My friend Christa and I braved torrential rains with a sense of urgency to get there before the final meal is served.

Housed in an old-fashioned diner car complete with a chrome exterior, M. Wells is an art deco, Quebeco-American, culinary conundrum. With booth seating and stools lining a counter, menu boards on the wall and antique soda siphons, you assume you’re at a soda fountain/french fries kind of place. Look more closely though, and those menu boards offer crazy things–a Ramos Tecate Fizz and Tripe Jello Shots, which have to be the most disgusting things I could imagine. The waiter assures me that everything up there is a joke. I’m a little disappointed, for the fois gras maple syrup sounded like something I’d order. This is no ordinary diner. Dufour’s food has been called the most innovative thing to happen to NY’s culinary scene this year. “Exciting and fearless” have been used to describe the restaurant and the food it puts out.

All's Well at M. Wells

Knowing ahead of time that our Tuesday lunch would be a rich and indulgent one, since anyone from the Montreal mecca wouldn’t have anything less, I ate only a small bowl of cereal in the morning to be ready. I was starving, in the true Chris Farley SNL skit fashion, when I arrived. The restaurant was full, with a wait, at 2pm on a Tuesday. It’s good to know that a good, long weekday lunch still exists in our modern workweek. That, or everyone there was like me, reporting to work at another restaurant in a few hours.

I perused the menu while waiting, watching plates leave the kitchen and arrive to couples and groups eagerly waiting. I saw something with bonito flakes, bone marrow with escargot- bones split the long way, and lots and lots of fois gras. I saw two men order a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For a Tuesday lunch at a diner. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, that sounds lovely.

The color scheme is reminiscent of a 1980s South Beach diner

We watched the host jury rig a table that was just inches from being in the actual doorway, pushing whole groups of people at the communal table over a few inches, sorry folks, a few inches more. Fearful that his careful orchestration was going to result in our seat being in the doorway, we watched, knowing our fate. Of course, he turns, gestures, and welcomes us to sit. Oh well.

Communal Tables and bench seats

This menu is rich. There are porterhouses and ribs on one side, breakfast hotdogs and béchamel on the other. There is fois gras on both sides. We ask the cute-as-a-button server for guidance. We order his favorite salad- farm fresh greens with blue cheese, spicy, candied walnuts and green apple slices- but diverge from his plan for the next two plates. To the dismay of cardiologists everywhere, we ordered a fois gras grilled cheese and the breakfast hotdog. Because what is a breakfast hotdog? Honestly. It is actually two hotdogs, a grilled, buttery bun, a fried egg, cheesy béchamel sauce and roasted tomatillo salsa. Good lord. We cut through this meal with what ended up being a whole bottle of crisp French rosé.

Grilled Cheese with Fois Gras, obviously.

The Bounty

A Breakfast Hotdog. Because apparently those exist.

It was delicious. It was gratuitous. It was a once in a lifetime? No way, they have another location all picked out; they’ll start a build out once August ends. They only had a year long lease at this location, so when the landlord raised the rent too high, they decided to go. But, bide your time New Yorkers, Dufour and Obraitis will continue their quest to bring the richness and customary foods of Quebec to Long Island City for us to enjoy.

You have one week to get there:

M. Wells
21-17 49th Avenue Long Island City, NY 11101

Brunch 10-4 Tuesday through Sunday
Dinner 6-11 Tuesday through Thursday

We had such a cute waiter. Did I mention that?

**** M.Wells closed August 31st, 2011****