Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Shanghainese Soup Dumplings

One of my coworkers, who is Shanghainese, introduced me to soup dumplings about 6 months ago. Now I am totally addicted to them. Soup dumplings, which originate from Shanghai, are essentially meat dumplings filled with hot, delicious soup inside. The dipping sauce of choice is black Chinese vinegar with shredded raw ginger.

So how does the soup get inside the dumpling? Well, the meat filling is mixed with a soup base and frozen for a couple of hours. That enables the soup base and filling to solidify and congeal together. The frozen mixture is then scrapped with a spoon and (securely) encased in wonton wrappers, and steamed to perfection. Because there is soup/liquid in the dumplings, they are made-to-order and have to be consumed immediately. Otherwise, the wonton wrappers will absorb the soup inside and turn doughy instead of light and soupy.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Salt Spreader

New York City received another dousing of snow and sleet yesterday. School children enjoyed the day off while adults were outside shoveling snow so the cars could get out.

I saw this salt spreader on the sidewalk in my neighborhood. The workers were still shoveling snow further up the street. I assumed that once the snow is cleared, the blue colored salt will be deposited on the street via the wheel barrel looking machine.

Does anyone know what the salt is blue?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Holy Bat Wing, Batman!!

This photo was taken at an art gallery opening in New York City last Friday. A good friend of mine designed the catalog for the exhibition and I was invited to attend the opening and reception.

The woman in this photo was wearing a very interesting winter jacket. It has a pair of straps attached to the inside that can be worn over the shoulders like a backpack. That way, the woman does not have to carry the jacket in her hands when she is not wearing it.

She told me it is a club kid jacket. I have never heard of the term. Have you seen this kind of jacket before?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Takashimaya Florist

Takashimaya is one of the most exclusive and expensive departmental stores in New York City. While researching the information for this post, I found out that Takashimaya does not have a US-based website. The only store site I could find in English was for Singapore Takashimaya.

Takashimaya is a large Kyoto-based retail store that has outlets all over Japan, as well as in Taipei, Paris, Singapore, and New York City. It was
founded in 1829 by Iida Shinshichi. The store specializes in obscure designer brands for apparels, cosmetics, accessories, and home furnishings.

This photo was taken inside the store's floral department on the 1st floor of the building. Aside from floral arrangements, it also sells garden ornaments, decorative and utilitarian vases, tools, and books and cards with botanical themes.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Statue of Victory

This statue of Victory is part of the Sherman Monument located on the south east corner of Central Park. The monument depicts Victory leading General William Tecumseh Sherman seated on his horse coming home from war. General Sherman was one of the generals who led the Union (northern states) against the Confederates (southern states) in the American Civil War .

The monument was created by August Saint-Gaudens in 1892-1903. Saint-Gaudens was one of the most important American sculptors of the Beaux-Arts era.

Victory is a common symbolic figure used in many war monuments to signify triumph. The figure is based on the Greek goddess Nike. One of the most famous of these statues is the Winged Victory at the Louvre in Paris.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Healthy New York City

Recently, the New York City Board of Health passed an amendment to the city health code to slowly phase out artifical trans fats in all food items served at restaurants by July 1, 2008.

Prior to that, the other major public health initiative undertaken by the city was the smoking ban, which took effect on April 1, 2003. The ban covered all workplaces including bars, restaurants, cafes, pool halls and offices. In addition, the city and state imposed an additional $1 tax on every pack of cigarettes, making New York among the nation's most expensive places to smoke.

This photo of a small convenience store is advertising cigarette sales at $6.60 per pack. The prices at other stores are closer to $7.

So how much is a pack of cigarettes in your city?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ming the Merciless Unveiled

I did a google search of "Ming the Merciless" and found there are more than one blogger/internet surfer using the name. Aside from me, there is a guy in California and another in Switzerland who call ourselves, Ming the Merciless.

But who is Ming the Merciless? The name came from a fictional character in a scifi comic strip called, Flash Gordon, which was first published in 1935. Ming the Merciless was an extraterrestrial villain from the planet, Mongo and the main nemesis of the hero, Flash Gordon. Ming the Merciless has an underground ice palace, Ice Station Earth, set deep beneath Antarctica. With his arsenal of laser weapons (that was so 1930s, before WMD became the word of choice) and an army of drone robots, Ming the Merciless set out to conquer Earth but his plan was foiled by Flash Gordon.

This photo, a semi coming out party for me, was taken inside a relatively empty subway train -- nobody was sitting within view of my camera. The reason my face is not totally visible in the photo is because I was told (and have read) that blogging can be a career suicide, especially if too much information is revealed. Besides, I fancy myself as the International Man of Mystery. Yeah baby!!

If you have an alter ego, who would you be?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Korean Cuisine

I love Korean cuisine and my favorite Korean dish is the spicy tofu and seafood stew, which is especially delicious during the cold winter months. Another reason I love Korean food is the appetizers or side dishes that are served with every meal called, banchan. These little morsels of meat, seafood or vegetable dishes are served tapa-style and they can be spicy, sweet, salty, crunchy, soft, or chewy.

This photo was taken last week at my favorite neighborhood Korean restaurant called, Natural Tofu. It is one of the many banchan that came with the meal. I do not know the name of this dish but it is a type of black beans that have been deep fried, tossed with a sweet barbeque sauce and sprinkled with sesame seed. Yummy!! If you love asian food like I do, you should check out Singapura Daily Makan Photo by Keropokman who blogs Singapore Daily Photo.

So tell me about your favorite food. What do you like to eat?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Murray's Bagel

A bagels is a type of yeasted dough bread that was first introduced to this country in the 1880s by Jewish immigrants from Central Europe. It has an extraordinary chewy consistency, which makes it very different from other types of breads in the market. The chewy consistency is achieved by boiling the dough in water first before baking it in the oven.

New York City bagels are supposedly the best in the world because of the city's tap water in which they are boiled in. Or maybe it is because New Yorkers are snobbish about their food. Regardless of where they are made, bagels are usually eaten with cream cheese. For more special occasions, bagels are served with cream cheese topped with smoke salmon or lox.

This photo was taken inside Murray's Bagels on 8th Avenue and 22nd Street in Chelsea. It is a chain of bagel cafe that sells all types of bagels and its accoutrements like cream cheese, smoked salmon and whitefish, creamed herring, etc. Bagels are usually consumed at breakfast, with a cup of strong coffee.

So what do you normally eat for breakfast? What did you have for breakfast today?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chinese New Year Lion Dance

The lion dance is a traditional Chinese dance that is usually performed during special occasions like Chinese (Lunar) New Year, which starts this week. The dance involves two acrobatic performers who balance an elaborate head piece and a long tail while mimicking the moves of a lion to the rhythm of drums and cymbals.

This photo was taken on Sunday (yesterday) afternoon in Flushing, Queens. The lion dance troupe was performing on the street and visiting various retail stores in the area. It is supposed to bring good luck to the businesses that hire these dancers to perform at their stores.

Flushing, in Queens, is the second biggest Chinatown in New York City. The other two Chinatowns are in downtown Manhattan (the oldest and biggest) and Brooklyn. Flushing is also the site of the Arthur Ashe Stadium for the U.S. Open and the Shea Stadium for the New York Mets.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Outside My Window: The Next Morning

This is what I woke up to on Wednesday morning. The snow continued to fall until late in the afternoon. By the evening, the snow had turned into ice, which made the roads slippery and dangerous for drivers. Some above ground trains were delayed due to circuit problems from icing on the tracks. Many schools and some businesses were closed early.

The snow storm was not all bad for New Yorkers. Some entrepreneurial youngsters were charging $10 to $15 per hour to clear snow from the sidewalks and driveways.

Why do private homeowners have to shovel snow from the public sidewalks, you ask? Well, there is a New York City law that requires private homeowners and businesses to clear snow from the sidewalks abutting their properties within a reasonable time or risk getting a $50 fine. In addition, the public sidewalks have to be properly cleared because homeowners can be liable for a slip and fall suit if it was established that the sidewalks were poorly maintained.

So what do you think of all these?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Outside My Window: Tuesday Night

We had our first major snow storm of the season last Tuesday night. Despite below freezing temperature for over two weeks, we have not had much precipitation until recently.

On Tuesday night, the snow began to fall. By Wednesday morning, most schools and some businesses were closed for the day. The amount of snow we received in New York City was nothing compared to upstate New York, where areas near Lake Ontario were the worst hit, receiving over 12 feet of snow and resulted in over a dozen deaths.

This photo taken on Tuesday night from my living room window shows the beginning of the snow storm. I had the camera sitting on the tripod set on top of the window ledge. Tomorrow, I will post a photo taken 10 hours later from the same position.

I hope everyone has a warm and enjoyable weekend

Friday, February 16, 2007

Looking For Love

Hi everyone, I am single and I am looking for someone special to share my life. I have beautiful blue eyes, salt & pepper hair, and a smile that can melt a thousand hearts.

I enjoy holding hands, taking long walks in the park, cuddling at night and even a belly rub once in awhile. I promise to listen to all your problems, laugh at your jokes, and cheer you up when you are down. I will no judge you if you did something wrong or complain about your cooking even if it is bad. I will always be happy to see you when you get home from work. And if you like, I will give you lots and lots of kisses.

My friends say I am loyal, smart, easy-going, and fun to be around. I will be the perfect companion for you. If you have children, I have to admit I love kids. And kids love me too.

Don't be shy! I know you are out there. Come on, write me an e-mail at CutiePetudie@SinglePerson.Com. I promise to respond to every e-mail.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Close Encounter of the Third Kind

Store window displays are always an interesting sight in New York City. This one from Barneys New York is especially interesting because it shows a blue mannequin being attacked by little white people. Actually, these little white people are Munnies. Munnies are small vinyl action figures made by Kidrobot, a creator and retailer of limited edition collector toy figures. They are extremely popular among teenagers and college students. Recently, Kidrobot ventured into the apparel business and it is doing very well, especially among its core fans, the toy collectors.

While researching the identity of the little white people in the photo, I discovered these Gorillaz action figures. Aren't they cute? You can watch the video starring these action figures by clicking here. I love this video!!

Do you have a favorite toy or do you collect anything special?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

These young lovers were holding hands and whispering sweet little nothings to each other at the Grand Central Station late one night. Were they celebrating an anniversary? Or were they secret lovers meeting at the train station? Regardless, romance was definitely in the air.

The photo is a little blurry. I saw them as I was walking through the station and snapped a quick photo as soon as their backs were turned from me.

Hope everyone has a wonderful and enjoyable Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ice Carving @ Central Park Winter Jam

Ice carving is a form of art that produces temporary sculptures that will eventually disappear into a puddle of water. The ice sculpture begins its life as a special block of super clear ice made from pure, clean water to reduce the appearance of air bubbles in the ice, which can make it opaque. First, the carver uses chainsaws and chisels to create the shape of the sculpture. Then more precision chisels and grinders are used to carve the details and smooth out the surfaces. Once it is completed, it is stored in a temperature control room until it is ready to display or delivery.

This photo, taken at the Central Park Winter Jam this past weekend, shows a young artist demonstrating this ice carving skill. We are experiencing a bout of super cold weather this couple of weeks. Notice the ice on the floor is not melting and the family in the background are bundled up in their winter coats.

Are you an artist? Aside from the photography, what kind of art do you do?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Chairs Or Art?

It was late Sunday night and all the stores at the food court in Grand Central Station have closed for the evening. Only a dozen or so people were still lingering around waiting for their trains to arrive. I was on my way home, walking to the subway terminal located inside the Grand Central Station.

I saw this interesting sight -- chairs neatly stacked on top of the tables. It got me wondering. Did someone with an artistic flair put it together or was the person a little obsessive compulsive? Or is this just a routine way of stacking chairs on top of the table? I admit, I have never seen anything like this before. What do you think?

N.B.: Since we are on the topic of organization, please share with me how you catalog your photographs? My laptop automatically catalog them by dates. I also keep a separate folder for the photos I have selected, resized and PhotoShopped for this blog.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Central Park Winter Jam

The Central Park Winter Jam, held at the 72nd Street Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park yesterday, was one of the many free events sponsored by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation at Central Park. Winter activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing and igloo making were available despite the lack of natural snow accumulation. Huge amount of artificially generated snow were created to cover the venue specially for this event. There were also an ice carving exhibition, husky dogs for adoption, free hot chocolate and smoothies, t-shirt give-aways, ski vacation exhibitions, etc.

The photo collage shows a member of the U.S. Winter Olympic Freestyle Ski Team (also known as the The Flying Aces) performing on a giant trampoline. The team routinely trains on the trampoline to master the flips, twists and turns that are commonly used in the competition. This demonstration attracted the most audience and applauds. Click on the photo to see a larger, clearer picture of the collage.

N.B.: The collage was pieced together from half a dozen jumps, despite the appearance of one single jump, courtesy of PhotoShop.

Do you know how to ski? I saw a lot of brochures for ski vacations in upstate New York and Vermont at the event. Unfortunately, I cannot ski so I did not pick up any brochures.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

New York Fashion Week: The End

New York Fashion Week finally ended yesterday following 10 consecutive days of fashion shows by 77 designers/brands from around the world. Most of the shows took place inside the Bryant Park tents, but smaller showers were held in other showrooms around the city.

For international fashionistas, New York Fashion Week is only the beginning of the Fall 2007 season. Next Monday, London Fashion Week begins (Feb 12-16) and it is followed immediately by Milan Fashion Week (Feb 16-24) and Paris Fashion Week (Feb 25 - Mar 5). I hope our friends in London, Milan and Paris will post at least one photo from the events.

The gentleman in the first photo is Tim Gunn from the Bravo Channel television show, Project Runway, hosted by Heidi Klum. I waited for him to finish a conversation with another fan before asking for permission to take his photo. He was quite popular because after I was done, two more fans wanted to have their photos taken with him.

The gentleman in this second photo is Cresencio from Operations, a two-year old New York based designer label. The photo was taken at the showroom/store in SoHo.

Starting tomorrow, we will go back to normal programming, i.e. no more New York Fashion Week photos.

Friday, February 9, 2007

New York Fashion Week & The Models

Aside from the clothes and celebrities, another popular target of photographers at the New York Fashion Week are the models. However, this year there was a controversy surrounding the weight (or lack there of) of girls walking down the runways after a young Brazilian model died from eating disorder.

Unlike the steps taken by Milan and Madrid recently, where models were weighed in and required to meet a certain BMI (body mass index) criteria, New York City instituted its own non-binding requirements for the models: girls under 16 will not be allowed to walk the runways, and no alcohol or cigarettes are allowed around the models.

According to Diane von Furstenberg
, President of Council of Fashion Designers of America, the aim of the program was to bring awareness of eating disorders to the people working in fashion. When asked what she thinks of mandatory weigh in of models, Ms. von Furstenberg said, "Over my dead body!"

The first (blurry) photo above was my only shot of a model walking towards the tents at Bryant Park. The paper bag she was holding is from PAX, a deli around the corner from the park. So is that her lunch??

The second photo was a series of lighted advertisement panels near the subway station in Bryant Park. They were sponsored by the New York Times newspapaer.

So what do you think of this controversy about super skinny girls? Should fashion shows have a minimum weight requirement for the models?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

New York Fashion Week & The Tents

The New York Fashion Week has been held at the Bryant Park since 1993 where huge makeshift tents are erected to house three showrooms, cafes and bars, bathrooms, a business center and an exhibition space.

Each showroom has a catwalk/runway with special seatings for guests and a section for the press. The showrooms, called The Tent, The Salon and The Promenade, range in size from about 5,000 sq feet (455 sq meters) to 15,000 sq feet (1,394 sq meters).

The first photo (above) was taken late in the evening. You can see the tents have taken over most of the park. The second photo was taken earlier during the day. The generators (over a dozen of them) pipe heat into the tents because the temperature outside is below freezing.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

New York Fashion Week & The Press

Photographers and television crews from around the world are here for the New York Fashion Week. Most of the major news agencies have special access to film and photograph the event from inside the Bryant Park tents where the fashion shows are held.

A few independent television crews and paparazzi who do not have access into the tents (including people like me) are left to wait outside for a chance see celebrities and models arrive and leave the shows.

These photos taken outside the Bryant Park tents show a young lady taping a video segment for her show (first photo) and a group of paparazzi (second photo) eagerly waiting for some celebrities to come out of the tents.

Although I was not able to get inside the tents this year, I did go to a couple of shows (Luca Luca, Lacoste) two years ago with my neighbor who works in the fashion industry. I have since moved to a new apartment and she is no longer my neighbor.

If you are interested to see some of the photographs from the fashion shows, click here.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

New York Fashion Week & The Crowd

According the the Mayor's Office, the biannual New York Fashion Week generates 150,000 jobs for more than 15,400 businesses in the city, especially those involved in the hospitality, garment, transportation, entertainment, and service industries. The economic impact of the fashion shows alone is estimated to be around $177 million annually. That does not include the additional millions of dollars generated from wholesale apparel merchandising that takes place after the shows are over.

These photos examplify the fashionable crowd that congregate outside of the Bryant Park tents before and after the fashion shows. Only invited guests and fashion industry people are allowed inside the tents. The rest of us, mere mortals, have to wait outside to see what everyone is wearing.

Monday, February 5, 2007

New York Fashion Week & The Sartorialist

New York Fashion Week, the biannual spectacle of expensive clothes and beautiful people, descended on Bryant Park this past weekend. For the next 10 days or so, every local and foreign newspapers and television shows will be reporting on who and what is being sent down the runways. This event is a huge contributer to the city's economy, as well as a major tourism advertisement for the city.

So this week, I will be bringing you photographs from the New York Fashion Week.

The gentleman in this photo is Scott Schuman, the professional photographer/blogger who writes The Sartorialist. He is also a regular contributer for GQ magazine and The brilliance and originality of Mr. Schuman work is that he photographs regular people (well, okay...beautiful people) on the street who examplify fashion and style around the world.

I was standing outside the Bryant Park tents, where the fashion shows are being held, when I spotted Mr. Schuman walking up the street . I snapped this paparazzi-style photo before running up to say "HI!! I'm your biggest fan!" I asked and he consented to a couple more photographs but none of them turned out as well as this first shot. He is definitely a snazzy dresser.

So what is the most expensive piece of garment you ever bought for yourself?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

General Motors Building

General Motors Corporation or GM is the world largest automobile maker in the world. Founded in Flint, Michigan in 1908, the company manufactures some of the most recognizable and popular cars in the world. Despite stiff competitions from Japanese, Korean and European automobile manufactureres, and the struggles to finance its expensive company funded pension plans, GM still manages to be the world leader in the automobile industry.

The General Motors Building, built in 1968, takes up an entire block between Madison and 5th Avenue, and 58th and 59th Street. It is 705 feet (215 meters) tall and 50 storeys high. The 5th Avenue lobby of the building used to be an automobile showroom but now, the CBS Television Studio occupies most of the space. A smaller section of the lobby belongs to FAO Schwartz, a toy store. The Apple Cube was recently constructed above the plaza in front of the GM Building.

This photo, taken with a slow shuttle speed exposure, shows the ceiling tiles, lighting fixtures and support pillars of the 5th Avenue entrance to the GM Building. The ceiling is probably 5 storeys tall and has an impressive geometric design made from marble stone.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Pussy Willow

Since New York City had its warmest winter last year, some plants are beginning to bloom earlier than expected.

This photo of a pussy willow tree was taken earlier this week when I was waiting for the bus to go home. Pussy willow (salix discolor) got its name from the soft furry buds that form on the naked branch during late winter. The silky texture and grey colors of the buds resemble cats' paws. In early spring, the buds bloom to produce medium size white and pink flowers.

Click to enlarge the photo and you can almost feel the furry buds. Meow!!

Friday, February 2, 2007

An American in Paris

Recently, I saw the movie, An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. It was a musical, set in the 1950s, about an American soldier who stayed back in Paris to study art after the Second World War. Along the way, he met and fell in love with a beautiful French cabaret singer. However, the relationship had some major obstacles. Did they live happily ever after? You will have to watch the movie to find out. If you are a fan of old Hollywood musicals, this is one of the best of the genre.

The building in this photo is the
women's department of Bergdorf Goodman, on 5th Avenue and 58th Street. It reminds me of the architecture commonly seen in Paris, especially around the 1st - 4th and 8th - 9th arrondissements on the Right Bank. The statue in the foreground is Pomona, the Roman Goddess of Fruits and Nuts. She is standing on top of the Pulitzer Fountain, in front of The Plaza Residences (formerly, The Plaza Hotel).

Here is another photo of the Bergdorf Goodman Building that I posted on NYCDP last year. It was taken from the southern side, on 5th Avenue and 57th Street.

For more photo of the Pulitzer Fountatin, click here.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

What Annoys You Most About Your City?

February 1st is Daily Photo Theme Day. The theme this month is: what annoys you most about your city.

Mine is car alarms going off at 3:00 AM outside my bedroom window but that is hard to translate into photography. So I'm going for the crowded subway train.

I didn't sign up on time to be included in the Daily Photo Theme List but you can check the list out from the guy who started this daily photo blog in the first place - Eric of Paris Daily Photo.