A Snowy Day

On a snowy day in January a writer-friend, Romalyn Tilghman, with a new book to sell, arrived in New York for a conference at the Hilton Hotel. Romalyn's book, To The Stars Through Difficulties, is a fascinating look at the development of the public library system in Kansas in the early twentieth-century under the influence of Andrew Carnegie. The largesse of Mr Carnegie notwithstanding, what becomes clear in the reading is that the libraries would not have been built had it not been for the determination and ingenuity of the women who lived in those small towns spread out across the prairie.

                   On Park Avenue

                  On Park Avenue

                                                 Nature's Handiwork on the Upper East Side

                                                Nature's Handiwork on the Upper East Side

We met for lunch at what Zagat calls 'a perennial favorite,' the Trattoria Dell’Arte, on Seventh Avenue, directly across from Carnegie Hall.  Seated at a table overlooking the street, it was pure magic (and many laughs) watching the crowd scurrying by, slipping and sliding on the slick pavement, while across the street, Carnegie Hall, named after that great American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, loomed as unperturbed as ever.

By the way, you can tell the native New Yorkers when it snows by the umbrellas they carry. Visitors tend to don woolen ski caps with colorful patterns and, after tucking their chins deeper into their collars, they simply trudge on by. Close by us that day was a table of five, enjoying themselves immensely, if apologizing for their gleeful spirits, explaining that they were up from Texas where it never snows. Their enthusiasm was infectious. Between the conviviality in the front room and the sheer delight of watching a white-out of Seventh Avenue, my California friend and I agreed that it was a bit of heaven and Trattoria Dell'Arte an inspired choice.  Of course, what with all the heat generated by the railroad lines and subway cars and antiquated water pipes and millions of miles of wires running underground, a snowy day in Manhattan is a transient thing, a rapidly fading spectacle that should never be taken for granted.  

When it snowed again later in the week, sheets of white whipping in from the north, I donned my waterproof boots and fleecy socks to walk the neighborhood without having any particular destination in mind, wanting no more than to watch the city being transformed, snowflake by snowflake, into a ghostly and quieter version of its normal daytime self. Time was of the essence, I reminded myself for it doesn’t take long for a pristine white coverlet to turn into a slushy grey mound.

And it didn't take that long, only a matter of blocks, before a sidewalk sign caught my eye: If the brussel sprout soup didn't do it for me, the quiche sounded about right. Ducking inside this neighborhood charmer, I found Demarchelier on East 86th Street at Madison all in readiness. Lighting can make or break a restaurant, something the French pay close attention to. At Demarchelier the golden orbs add a warmth and coziness that's irresistible. Within minutes, I settled in with a copy of Between the World and Me; a glass of a pinot noir, soft in the mouth with hints of red berries; and a delicious quiche Lorraine. Take a look at that crusty bread, what's not to like! Then, too, there's madame, totaling the bill.

Have you a favorite place where you like to linger? Drop me a line and tell me about it. Hope to see you back here next week when I'll have the coffee ready. Until then, may life be good to you, mes amis.