new amsterdam market

I’m a bit late to Peck Slip but New Amsterdam Market at the site of the former Fulton Fish Market is an exciting addition to the burgeoning convergence of small-scale purveyors, growers and foragers scattered about the tri-state region. It doesn’t compare to the sprawling, wholesale-oriented Greenmarket in Union Square, but then it has no designs on filling a niche that’s already been filled. Instead it’s a reinvention of the Public Market, once a prevalent city institution: a lively assembly of both the raw and the cooked. Producers and (barely processed) products. Brought together under a single roof, a public square – or in this case an ignominious parking lot – it’s tantamount to the great English food halls. Or think of Madrid’s Mercado San Miguel and the Marche d’Aligre in Paris – the kind of market you visit with a list, as well as with the anticipation of bumping into friends and neighbors. It’s a convivial place where you can get your weekly stash of kimchi beef jerky, varietal cider and Brooklyn-made tempeh, watch April Bloomfield demonstrate how to filet a fish, then catch up over popcorn-topped ceviche and drinking vinegar. Writers and foodies will plug New Amsterdam as the city’s next great foodie destination but don’t believe the hype. It’s better than that. As soon as the tourist crowds disperse I suspect it will come into its own as the local we’ve been waiting for.

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urbanauts

Viennese architects Kohlmayr Lutter Knapp have come up with an adaptive new use for the empty retail spaces dotting the Austrian capital: hotel rooms. Mostly around 250 square feet in size, the small disused shops are being converted into street level lofts nicknamed Urbanauts. The master plan calls for different Urbanauts clustered together in one neighborhood making up a decentralized hotel, with services dotted around the area: the coffeehouse next door is the breakfast room, the hammam across the street is the spa, and the hotel bar is that trendy watering hole around the corner. Amenities and local tips are plotted on a map provided in the room. And the lobby? It’s the whole city. The concept is designed to offer guests a real feel for the surrounding urban space, and an alternative to the run-of-the-mill tourist traps. Guests step out of their room right onto the sidewalk, but the spaces still offer a private and convenient retreat for travelers. Guests can decide how much of the view outwards – and inwards – to reveal, using a clever blind system. And as part of the emphasis on locality, artists from the immediate environs are invited to design the rooms. Rates top out at around €120 per night per Urbanaut, including breakfast and the use of two bicycles. Space helmets not included.

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i spy ifly

iFly is a neat new online travel magazine from Dutch airline KLM.  What sets it apart from its dowdy paper cousin, the in-flight, is more than just a half-finished Sudoku. Namely it’s an almost Ipadian reliance on words and images cleverly integrated with video. The opening spread features German photographers Censi Goepel and Jens Warnecke, who work in situations where most refuse to go because they are either too cold, too dark, or too rainy. During a long Norwegian winter in a VW bus the duo tried to capture a flame with an extremely long shutter time. It became the basis for a career revolving around images with amazing light effects, a handful of which are featured here. There’s also a video profile of Berlin’s quirky Propeller Island City Lodge, a hotel and art installation rolled into one. A 360-degree interactive tour of a single square in Florence merges cleverly with a jaunt across Scotland by car – coupled with a chance to win your own Scottish adventure. And if you’ve ever been curious about the evanescent magic of traveling through the universe, there’s an inquisitive interview with Dutch Astronaut Andre Kuipers, too. Naturally there’s also the requisite arrivals and departures information for the airline; however, if you’ve never flown through Amsterdam Schiphol this section might actually make for the most interesting reading of all: check in for your flight on KLM’s mobile app then speed through customs to a picnic in the sun, replete with butterflies, in the new grass-filled Airport Park. If culture is how you’d rather while away your layover there’s a Library with books in 29 languages and a collection of Old Master paintings awaiting discerning eyes at the Rijksmuseum Schiphol. Leave it to the ever-practical Dutch to turn one of the most stressful aspects of modern life into one of the most relaxing – not to mention re-imagining how we read and think about it, too.

 

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the root of canals

Amsterdam’s canals are a major part of the city’s charm – and the canal belt area has even been nominated for a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Beginning Tuesday, visitors to the city will have another way to discover the city’s iconic canals:  the Rijksmuseum is opening an exhibition of paintings, prints and drawings which show the spectacular expansion of 17th-century Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s Canal Belt: The Expansion of Amsterdam in the Golden Age includes a  number of maps from the Rijksmuseum’s own collection which chart the concentric expansion. However, central to the exhibition are six views by Gerrit Berckheyde depicting the changes along the Gouden Bocht (or Golden Bend) of the Herengracht Canal – the richest part of the new city.

Amsterdam had long been a city like any other, but trade at the end of the 16th century was growing in a spectacular fashion and more and more people wanted to live in the city. By around 1672 Amsterdam had a population of more than 200,000. There was also constant demand for space to accommodate the docks and countless warehouses. The city had already expanded for a few years starting in 1585, but between 1610 and 1620 Amsterdam doubled in size. The final city expansion was  formally codified in 1662, when the three existing canals were extended, giving Amsterdam’s canal belt its famous half-moon shape.

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bucket list: 2009 edition – August

ireland sunrise

CARLINGFORD:  I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching the sun rise over Carlingford Loch.  In this photo you can just make out the oyster beds partially submerged in the foreground.  The village is famous (in Ireland) for its oysters, and one of my favorite meals entails a dozen of those local pearly mollusks on ice and a creamy pint of Guinness at PJ O’Hare’s.  If the rain is lashing down sideways in typical Irish fashion and there’s a peat fire blazing, more’s the better.

amsterdam

NETHERLANDS:   Amsterdam is one of those cities – like St. Petersburg and Paris – that is so strikingly beautiful in design and composition that you can spend minute after hour after day just wandering the streets and soaking it up like a sponge.  Plus, there’s the light.  What is it about the Flemish light?  Could it be that the humidity from the surrounding seas causes the light to diffuse and bathe everything in its beatific glow?  Whatever it is, it’s breathtaking to behold.

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misty water-colored memories

for-the-love-of-godI’m flashing back to being in Amsterdam around this time last year:  my first canal ride, aboard a private salon boat courtesy of the swanky InterConti; my first space cake and the many lost hours in thrall to the architecture (and the flowers);  my first crazy museum night, lined up for days outside the Rijksmuseum and not getting a glimpse of Damien Hirst’s For the Love of God until well past midnight.  (verdict:  Judith Leiber did it first)

Amsterdamers really know how to enjoy themselves, and Museumnacht is one of the most popular nights of the year in one of the coolest cities around.  More than 40 museums stay open well past the witching hour with special programming like an all night rave of dance and fashion in the Old Church or Oude Kerk; animation played out against the music of Radiohead and Goldfrapp;  an interpretive taste of historical food from the 65,000 cookbooks at Bijzondere Collecties van de Uya; and at the Olympic Stadium built for the 1928 games: a surprise midnight challenge.  It’s a great way to see parts of the city you might not ordinarily trek to see – and possibly the best way to interact with locals out for a night of groovy good fun. That’s right, it’s groovy good fun.

There’s even an upside to all that time spent in line:  when it snakes through an enfilade of pictures by Vermeer, Cuyp, Steen and van Ruisdael, you don’t care how long the wait is.

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