April: the reprieve isn't here yet, but the vision of green trees and the feel of bare legs and the taste of softshell crab and asparagus and baby strawberries... you can remember it now. And you think, we can make it. Hope is close.
Donald Judd Foundation on Spring Street: One of the best hidden gems we've found in New York, and arguably the most special art experience. Donald Judd--of incredible Marfa installations, ever modern furniture--spent a few years on the corner of Spring Street and Mercer, in the heart of Soho. On a block filled with wandering tourists you enter on the street level, and then are taken up floor by floor through a totally different world from the 60s. From the impeccably designed kitchen and living art with enormous murals, all the way up to the bedroom featuring a custom Dan Flavin light installation (!) and John Chamberlain smashed car piece, it's the perfect combination of design porn (the enormous windows! those tin ceilings!) and curated art collection. Note that advance tickets are required, see here.
Pullet eggs: The ultimate sign spring has arrived, regardless of what temperature it is. I first had a pullet egg up at Blue Hill Stone Barns, and was blown away by the flavor and incredibly bright orange yolk. Laid by hens under a year old, known as pullets, they are tiny with a unique richness. Don't bother using them in anything where they'll be hidden like in baking - you want to eat these as purely as possible. They also hold their shape quite well, and are incredible just poached or fried. I don't know when their season officially ends, but I've typically only seen them around for a few weeks -- get them while you can!
Opera at the Met: Going to the Opera is always a festive occasion, but there's something about attending just as the weather turns that's a real treat. We saw Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte last Friday, in a production that was set in '50s Coney Island - complete with fire eaters and sword eaters (so much eating in a circus!), a snake charmer and so on, all straight from today's Coney Island (read about the performers here.) But beyond the actual production, the fun is in the surroundings, from the incredible chandeliers to the Marc Chagall murals, to the ever enjoyable people watching. As spring hits, the fashion gets more enthusiastic and a general giddiness spilled over as everyone drinks prosecco on the front esplanade during intermission.
Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle: Bemelmans always comes up on old-world New York lists and with reason. Named for Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of the Madeleine childrens books, the small dark bar has an Art Deco vibe with goldleaf ceilings and Bemelmans' whimsical murals throughout the space. The night I was there, a piano singer was singing, martinis were flowing, and the clientele a mix of tourists and new yorkers who were clearly at home ordering the regular.
A big pot of gumbo: In my top ten favorite meals of all time, gumbo is high on the list. Stewy, filled with delicious flavor, and topped with the tang of Crystal hot sauce, it's all good things in one. Our go-to recipe includes chicken, sausage, and shrimp, but all variations are good variations -- from okra to oysters to gamier varieties (or so I'm told.) It's the perfect meal when you can't predict whether it'll be 20 degrees or 80, ever delicious, better with time, and great for a group.