prelude to a kiss

IMG_2239Across the road from The French Laundry is what appears at first glance to be a public park. On closer inspection, however, it reveals itself as the restaurant’s extensive chef’s garden. Interestingly, it’s neither gated nor guarded, giving anyone and everyone free rein to roam the planted beds and see what a handful of lucky diners might be feasting on that evening. Tonight, one of those lucky diners is me – turning my early evening stumble into a serendipitous aperitif.

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flower market road

One of Hong Kong’s most colorful street markets, the imaginatively named Flower Market (on Flower Market Road, natch) is a jungle of exotic blooms, lucky houseplants and sweet scents just beyond the Yuen Po bird garden. Unfortunately it’s bookended by a giant “Made in China” crap emporium – though given the fact that I am in China I should probably not use that term quite so derisively.

 

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i know why the yuen po bird sings

A pleasant surprise on this morning’s stroll came along Yuen Po Street and the charming vest pocket garden situated there. It’s a gathering place for songbird owners, who carry their pets around in intricately carved cages. It also houses a few dozen stalls selling all manner of beautiful birds and their paraphernalia – including one vendor with varying sizes of live crickets: medium, large, and run-for-your-life-jumbo. Just keep in mind that whole avian flu scare a few years ago and keep your hands to yourself.

 

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live blog: cían’s allotment

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i’ll be happy when the lilacs bloom again

It’s a lovely spring morning here in NYC – made better by the discovery of my favorite patch of flora in wild, fragrant bloom. To celebrate, I’m having my first ever giveaway:  a memorable meal (ok, a free lunch avec moi) to the first person who can guess the obscure musical theater reference in today’s headline.

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a (not so) secret garden

Conservatory Garden in the upper east flank of Central Park is one of the great vest-pocket parks of Manhattan.  Enter through the imposing wrought iron gate – rescued from the Vanderbilt Mansion – and you come into a formally planted garden of grand allees, ornamental lawns, and an enormous wisteria-covered pergola.  It’s about as transporting as you can get in this city, short of a trip to the botanical gardens.  The flowering pear trees are right now raining down a storm of small white petals, carpeting the walkways with their ephemeral snow.  Narcissus, in a profusion of pastel paint-chip variations, are in full flower.  So, too, are the tulips.  And best of all, the narcotic lilac groves are blooming with all the colors of Easter eggs – soft purple, pale blue, paper white – and filling the air with a sweet perfume.

Stretched out under the pergola and looking up at the tangle of vines, I couldn’t help but think of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained glass windows and decorative arts.  Something tells me he’d love it here.

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