Eating 8th avenue – wife cookies at Gaoming Bakery

Gaoming BakeryOn repeated visits to 8th avenue over the last two months, I’ve nibbled around the edges of Gaoming Bakery (which is not at all a bad way to approach it). Its chicken sticky rice consoled me after a disappointingly wan bowl of noodle soup elsewhere; its strong, lightly-sweetened iced milk tea was a perfect pick-me-up for the long slog to 5th avenue and the even longer wait for the B63 bus.

But its wife cookies deserve their own post. Continue reading


My new hat

scotland hat

Photo credit: Eric Brooks

This is a postscript to my report on the Scotland Run 10K a few weeks back. I was disappointed – nay, outraged! – to run my little heart out in Central Park and come away with nothing to show for it but the world’s ugliest cotton t-shirt, a bottle of genuine Scottish Highlands water, and a blister on my left foot. The cool hats distributed at the finish in past years were nowhere to be seen.

I whined about the lack of hats online, and I whined about the lack of hats in real life. This morning, one of my teammates in the Prospect Park Track Club (aka “the world’s finest running club”) showed up at our group run with a blue and white Scotland hat. For me.

He claimed it was too small for his head, but I hope he knows I know it was really because he’s just a generally nice guy.

The moral of the story: sometimes, if you whine enough, nice things will happen that you really don’t deserve . . . but only because there are other people in this world who choose to be nice.

I aspire to whine a little less, and be just a little nicer.

Presidential apartments

The Woodrow Wilson

The Woodrow Wilson

Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway is notable for a number of reasons. It is the world’s first “parkway” (the word was coined to describe it), designed by the prolific Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and constructed in the 1870s as part of a grand vision – never achieved – to link Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and other green spaces together via a network of tree-lined, Parisian-style boulevards.  From its source at the magnificent (if terrifying for pedestrians) Grand Army Plaza, the parkway flows past the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum before it takes a dog-leg and turns into a much more workaday artery (less like Paris, more like Buffalo) at Ralph Avenue.

Come Labor Day weekend, the parkway will be transformed into an ear-splitting, bejeweled, befeathered and beflagged West Indian carnival. (Summertime in Brooklyn is bracketed by two festive excuses for public semi-nudity, June’s Mermaid Parade in Coney Island being the other one.)

Eastern Parkway is a fun street to run because the two malls that parallel the main traffic lanes, originally intended for horses and carriages, are now given over to pedestrians and cyclists (who seem less crazy here than in many other parts of the borough).  You can run long, uninterrupted, relatively uncongested blocks between avenues while taking in the view. Continue reading

Eating 8th Avenue – King’s Kitchen

kings kitchenAside from a quick trip for a carry-out order of hot and sour Yun Nan-style dumplings – the request of my ailing and stressed-out daughter, so how could I refuse? – my 8th Avenue eating quest has been on hiatus for a couple of weeks. It’s past time to remedy that. And so, on a gray day that threatened to drizzle (but never quite followed through), I headed out once again on an 8th avenue-bound N train with no particular destination in mind.

This time, “no particular destination” turned out to be a Cantonese place on the corner of 53rd Street. In the window: the better part of a roast pig, burnished-red ducks, and some very alarmed-looking chickens. I’d been meaning to add barbecue to a roster that has, until now, been dominated by soupy, noodly Fujianese things, and King’s Kitchen looked like a pretty good bet. Continue reading

Race report: Scotland Run 10K (April 4, 2015)

Scotland 10K shirt

All through this last hard winter, and the one before that as well, I envied other New York City runners their royal blue and white “Scotland Run” hats. They were bright, they looked warm, and they generated friendly nods and waves from other runners rocking the same hat.

So I could claim that I signed up for the Scotland Run as my first race of 2015 because I wanted to honor my Scottish ancestors. Or because I needed to overcome my fear of 10Ks (more on that in a bit). Or because it fit my schedule.

All these things are true. But the main reason I signed up for the race was because I wanted one of those hats.

Imagine my consternation last week when I picked up my race number at New York Road Runners in their spiffy Upper East Side digs and received along with it a wee packet of Walker’s shortbread, a bottle of water from the Scottish Highlands, and a cotton T-shirt of truly spectacular ugliness.

Where was the hat?

A dismayed post to my running club’s Facebook page brought words of reassurance. “They give the hats out at the end,” I was told. Words of advice, too: “you may need to stand in line, and sometimes they run out, so you need to run fast.”

Fair enough. Hats that cool should be earned. Continue reading