The Frick Museum and Bistro Chat Noir

Last week, on a day with China-blue skies and temperatures in the upper 60s, I headed for the Frick Museum to see the exhibition: “Coypel’s Don Quixote Tapestries: Illustrating a Spanish novel in Eighteenth-Century France.”

To celebrate the opening, nearly 600 guests, the Young Fellows, had attended the black tie Don Quixote ball, sponsored by Lanvin, with many of the women wearing gorgeous full-length gowns, and some with lacy mantillas and decorative combs. A young gentleman in a silver matador's jacket looked as if he had stepped out of the novel.

The exhibition was delightful, but there was a snag, one I had not anticipated. It's that photography is prohibited in the galleries. The only place you could take a photo was in the garden room. What to do? At MoMA, for instance, there is a simple online procedure for journalists and bloggers to gain access to the museum’s digital prints, but at The Frick Collection one needs to submit forms in duplicate... and wait. Which is what I am doing.

Hopefully, I’ll hear back this week and will be able to offer you a few glimpses of this delightful small show, which runs until May 17, 2015. How could it be anything but delightful, when based on Cervantes tales of Don Quixote, the errant knight tilting at windmills. Having read it first in Spanish, for a Spanish Lit course at Hunter College, I'm tempted to read it again, if this time in English.

(PS: The Frick Museum most graciously came through, so I've inserted 2 works by Coypel alongside "The Harbor at Dieppe" a masterpiece of the Frick collection by JMW Turner.) After visiting the Frick Museum that day, it as on to meet a friend for lunch at the Bistro Chat Noir (Black Cat) at 22 East 66th Street, steps off Madison. Rounding the corner, my eyes searching for a sign, what caught my attention was a café table out front, the white cloth flapping in the breeze and a menu available for passersby to inspect. Most inviting.

At an outdoor table, a couple was having drinks. Coming on the heels of a winter that had held on too long for New Yorkers, seeing people sitting outdoors enjoying themselves was welcome. Venturing in, it was as if spring had sprung. Spring is here, at Chat Noir! 

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My friend chose a Sancerre, a light-bodied, minerally wine from the Loire, but I hung back thinking it might be too crisp for the field greens I had in mind. Congenial and professional, the waiter recommended a chenin blanc (here's how to say it: Shay-naN-BlaN).

Waiting for the wines to arrive, the restaurant felt urbane, civil. So unlike many of the downtown hot spots that sport tin ceilings, tiled walls and stone floors—all guaranteed to amplify the decibel count. How pleasant to be having a conversation without having to raise your voice.

The chenin blanc was lovely, a light-to-medium bodied wine with a hint of apples. Or was that a floral note? At any rate, the sign of a good glass of wine is that when you finish it, you find yourself wishing you had sipped more slowly. What's more, it went well with a chopped chicken salad, one made with crisp greens and fresh-cooked still-warm chicken and beautifully presented. Something magical happens to mixed greens and endive when they come in contact with warm chicken, my default choice at lunchtime. The salad was picture-perfect, and I wish I had a picture to show you, but when dining with others, it's a bit awkward to be staging a photo shoot, rather than toasting one another and wishing your companion: Bon Appetit!

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At any rate, after a lovely lunch, sealed with an excellent espresso, I returned home to find an invitation to the opening of a women's clothing shop in my neighborhood, one featuring young French designers. Everywhere  you go these days, the French are staking outposts on the Upper East Side. But that's a tale for another day. May this note find you with Spring on your doorstep and in your heart.

Jusqu'à la semaine prochaine... until next week when I'll have the coffee ready. Merci beaucoup...may life be good to you.