Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New in New York: Breakfast is Lunch and Dinner at OatMeals

This unique sign introduces New York diners to Oatmeal a New in New York restaurant
By Mitch Broder

I politely declined a bowl of oatmeal with bacon, cheese, and apples.

I write now in the hope of sparing others my lingering regret.

The bowl was proferred by Samantha Stephens, who knows she has a pop-culture name, not long after we agreed that she has a more significant challenge. That challenge is me, or at least people like me, who need a bit of bewitching to embrace the pleasures of New York’s first all-oatmeal restaurant.

The counter at the New In New York restaurant Oatmeals
Samantha has just opened that restaurant, the culmination of a decade’s worth of dreaming, studying, imagining, and planning, not to mention spending. She calls it OatMeals. It’s a rustic shop that puts things into oatmeal that, to be fair, would probably get the Quaker Oats Man to quake.

It puts in dried figs, crumbled gorgonzola, and balsamic vinegar glaze. Or sundried tomato, parmesan, cracked black pepper, sea salt flakes, and glaze. Or raisins, sliced almonds, coconut milk, crystallized ginger, cardamom, vanilla, and brown sugar. Or chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. That would be the oatmeal S’mores.

It also lets you put your own things in, starting with a base of hot oatmeal. You get to put your first two things in free. The toppings, besides those above, include dried pomegranate, pineapple, butterscotch chips, pesto, almond milk, and nutmeg. Don’t order these together.

A vase that welcomes visitors to Oatmeal a hot restaurant that is New in New York
“The cool thing about New York,” Samantha said, “is that it’s always about something new. We want to try new things. We go out of our way to try new things.” She invoked Rice to Riches, the ten-year-old all-rice-pudding restaurant in Nolita. If rice pudding could make it, Samantha reasons, oatmeal can.

She asked me what I like oatmeal with. I said one cup of sugar. Still, she suggested The Canadian, even though it’s listed as Savory. It has bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, roasted apples, maple syrup, and sea salt. I didn’t think I’d like that. She sagely brought me a small sample anyway.

It was stunning. It was a veritable party of flavors. The ingredients blended seamlessly to make cereal I’d never dreamed of. I already knew that Samantha had graduated from the French Culinary Institute, and yet I had doubted her. Now I am all alone with my Cheerios.

After the Canadian sample, Samantha brought me a bowl of what I’d selected, which is called, not surprisingly, the Pumpkin Pie. It has pumpkin purée, pecans, brown sugar, pumpkin spice, and whole milk. It was sweet and delicious. But more pleasant than stunning. Samantha had wanted me stunned.

It’s understandable. She took the scenic route to restaurant ownership, starting twelve years ago, when she came to New York from Fairfax, Virginia. She went to Baruch College, where she studied psychology and gained weight. She turned to oats to help with the weight. She didn’t say if she used the psychology.

You can order from Oatmeal's extensive menu
Though the oat seed was planted, she took a detour into investment banking. But she also took classes in business management at NYU. Finally, she attended the Institute, from which she emerged a pastry chef. She had taken night classes. She was serious about her oatmeal.

She chose a store near NYU, so other students could turn to oats. She decorated it with her collection of vintage rolled-oats boxes. She created a menu of two dozen oatmeal bowls, a dozen kinds of oatmeal pastry, and sandwiches made, naturally, with oatmeal bread.

She knows she has to get people to think of oatmeal as a meal. She knows she has to get people to expand their concept of oatmeal ingredients. She knows she has to get people to stop resisting The Canadian. Maybe she should start them on oatmeal S’mores and work them up from there.

Even though Oatmeals is New in New York it has a few classic touches like this assortment of Oatmeal boxes

Get bowled over at OatMeals, at 120 West Third Street, between MacDougal Street and Sixth Avenue, in New York City.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Old New York: Anyone Who Would Share This Garden is a Saint

The Arch welcomes visitors to this special Old New York garden, The Gardens At Saint Luke in the Fields
By Mitch Broder

A private garden in New York City would cost a lot if it weren't free. Happily, it is free. And you don't have to spray for beetles. You might have to let in some company, but your garden will inspire you to share. Saint Luke was a physician, and The Gardens at Saint Luke in the Fields are just what the doctor would have ordered.

The Gardens at Saint Luke in the Fields are a must see for fans of Old New York, especially this flower path

They're at the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, which is bordered by Hudson, Barrow, Greenwich, and Christopher streets in the middle of the West Village. There are six gardens, but the one for which you'll be happiest not to pay is the one called the Barrow Street Garden, even though you enter it on Hudson.

The Barrow Street Garden at the Gardens of Saint Luke in the Fields is adorned with beautiful orange flowers

Appropriately, it's paradise, a sanctuary full of flowers and birds and butterflies, and benches for every occasion. It's tucked behind brick walls, which separate your street life from your garden life. And company tends to be well-behaved. People come here to be quiet. They can go just about everywhere else to not.

Visitors to this Old New York spot will walk along the brick path at The Gardens of Saint Luke in the Fields

The garden is in quadrants, but you can easily ignore that and just wander the paths looking for the latest blooms. Then you can sit on a bench that's alone or on a bench that's with other benches, depending on whether you want to escape other people or want to watch other people escape you.

Find a serene bench at The Gardens of Saint Luke in the Fields to enjoy this Old New York gem

The church was built in 1821, and a garden was started in 1842, but the Barrow Street Garden wasn't started until 1956. Its creator was Barbara Ellen Leighton, who worked for the Port Authority and thus must have needed a sanctuary as much as anyone.

The Barrow Street Garden is among the last to be added to the Gardens of Saint Luke in the Fields

Barbara first dug into Saint Luke's in 1954, when she revived the Rectory Garden, which was the original. Her new garden was called the Corner Garden. It's not clear why its name was changed. The Rectory Garden is now known for its roses, but its name was not changed to the Rose Garden.

Old New York or New In New York finding blossoms of pink hydrangas is a welcome site at the Gardens fo Saint Luke in the Fields

The North Garden has silver maples; the South Lawn has grass; the Allée has a cherry grove; the Contemplation Corner has thoughts. But of all of them, the Barrow Street Garden is the priceless getaway, especially when you don't have the price of a getaway.

Beautiful blue hydreangas are a welcome site for anyone visiting the Gardens of Saint Luke in the Fields

There are just a few rules of garden conduct. Luke would have wanted it that way.

Stroll down the path through the Gardens of Saint Luke at the Fields in this quaint Old New York spot

And there's a memorial bench that says "Exit Laughing." You may be exiting that way.

Take another look at this beautiful Old New York arch which welcomes visitors to the Gardens of Saint Luke in the Fields

Disappear at The Gardens at Saint Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street, in New York City.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Vintage New York Presents: Don't Forget to Cry Uncle

Uncle Sam's Army Nave shop is among the Old New York spots to cry Uncle
Happy birthday to Uncle Sam ...

Fans of Greek cuisine will love Uncle Nick's which is relatively New in New York
... and to Uncle Nick ...

Grab a slice and a pint with Uncle Mario as you do some Dining in New York
... and to Uncle Mario ...

No dining in New York would be complete without a stop for some BBQ amt Brother Jimmmy's
... and to Brother Jimmy.

And enjoy your BBQ.