Privilege?

imgresEducation can truly help kids think differently from what they are not being taught at home.  Our kids went to LREI, a downtown NYC private school that makes diversity one of their main priorities.  Diversity of race, class and socioeconomic backgrounds.  The importance of inclusion regardless of where you came from is number one.

Privilege is having an advantage.  Many people are just privileged because of where they come.  How does an educational institution create an environment where students understand their privilege and are able to leave it at the door so that there is an even playing field in the classroom.  Not easy.

When it comes to this particular issue many schools attempt to acknowledge this but LREI walks the walk and talks the talk.  You can listen to the conversation here on the Brian Lehrer Show.

There is one thing that the school does for the kids in the 4’s.  They break them into groups of six to go on a field trip to each of their homes.  The child gives their 5 other classmates a tour of their home.  Showing their friends how they each live is eye-opening.  Kids at 4 don’t judge but they do understand differences.  I think it is genius.

I heard about all of this over the weekend.  It did not surprise me to hear how LREI continues to be creative and a leader in issues around inclusion.  That was always one of my favorite things about the community and leadership in LREI.

Take Me I’m Yours

The Jewish Museum raised money on Kickstarter for an installation called Take Me I’m Yours.   42 Artists participated in the show creating over 400,000+ artworks for people to take with them keeping up with the concept art for all.

bagelsWe backed the show which gave us early access and a nice spread from Russ and Daughters.

freestoreThis piece is in the lobby by Jonathan Horowitz.

presidentsWe will receive one of these posters when the show closes.  The black piece at the end of the poster did say Hillary Clinton but they had to block it out because non-profit organizations (such as the Jewish Museum) can not show any political affiliations or they would be in danger of losing their 5013C status.  This is also a piece by Jonathan Horowitz.

tomorrowbetterPlease God by Claire Fontaine reflecting that blind faith may be the only way to feed hope.

candiesThe show was a nod to the artist Feliz Gonzalez-Torres whose piece which is an endless supply of tiny red, silver and blue candies that can be installed however one wants (this piece is on loan from the Met).

giftThere were a variety of posters throughout that were descriptions of words from #Gift, #Economy, #Market.

yokoAir dispensers by Yoko Ono for 25 cents.  Commodifying consumable products around vital oxygen.

ribbonsPolitical Ribbons by Andrea Bowers

lemonadeLemonade Cans by Adriana Martinez

coffeetopsAll different coffee tops to go in ceramic by Uri Aran.

tzedah#Tzedakah, the Hebrew word is justice and within the Jewish tradition it is about an act of giving.

cardsMonument to the People We’ve Completely Forgotten by Herman Chong.  Black business cards.

fortunecookiesFortune cookies by Rachel Rose and Ian Chang.  There are 50 different sayings inside these so the odds are you all get a different one when you go with a group.  Randomly my fortune said “the future is female”.

Great show.  Highly recommend going.  It is especially great for kids.

Homeless

imagesI have history with NYC because we have lived here for so long.  We lived here through Koch, Dinkins, Giuliani, Bloomberg and now DeBlasio.  This city, the epicenter of democracy and capitalism is ever changing and evolving.

When we came to NYC there were areas of Brooklyn I would not feel comfortable walking through during the day and areas in Manhattan that I would not feel comfortable during the night.

This town is a melting pot of religions, pay checks, languages, jobs, ideas and housing.

Each mayor sets different priorities.  In the last year we have seen the homeless situation in this city return to a level that I have not seen in almost 15 years.  The streets are not as clean either but it is the homeless situation that is to upsetting.  They are sleeping on the streets, in doorways, and the majority of them are mentality unstable.

There was a guy ranting and raving in front of our dentist office making it difficult to get in and not to mention scary.  There is a guy who lives at the end of our street creating his own personal plastic shop.  There is the guy who sleeps on the sidewalk outside the park.  I could go on and on but it is unacceptable that this mayor appears to have chosen to do nothing about this issue.  Just noting the streets are filthy too.

We are living in a time where people feel on edge as it is and having unstable people living on our streets just amplifies the feeling of not being safe.   It is not ok.

Mimi

Eating is a way of life in our house.  It is not about nutrition as much as it is about the experience, the combination of flavors, the creativity and the conversation around the food.  It doesn’t matter if we are at home or checking out a new spot, this is our mantra.  Probably because of that high bar attitude we rarely find anything that can’t be tweaked or perhaps a bit better or that noteworthy.  It is a curse but we all enjoy the challenge.

Mimi might be one of the most creative, unique, intimate restaurants we have been to in a long time.  I read about Mimi just as it opened and what I read sounded impressive.  A young 25 year old chef, Liz Johnson, is the brainchild behind the food.  If I close my eyes I could be in Paris where rethinking of classic dishes reign.

tunaWe opted for splitting everything.  Good news is there were four of us so we got to taste more.  Thick pieces of fresh oiled up tuna over a chilled ratatouille doused with verbena.

tartineKinmedai.  This was brilliant.  Her concept of a summer pepper terrine.  Sliced roasted pieces of all red and yellow peppers layered like a terrine with slabs of fresh golden eye snapper over the top.  The flavors, the textures, just the whole thing was delicious. Everything sliced like a perfect whipped butter.

greensBibb lettuce with a picholine olive champagne vinaigrette. Had to get some greens in there.

kokotxaKokotxa.  This is the fish under the fish’s jaw served with black caviar and cabbage.  This was so light it you would think that you were eating buttery pillow puffs of gnocchi.

eelGrilled eel served with peaches and a dijonaise sauce.  The intensity of the sweet savory smoky eel mixed with the sweet peaches of the season is an incredible combination.

tetaFromage de Tete is classic French.  This usually has the appearance of a slab of gelatinous pieces of pieces of cow and pig but not here.  She poached these lowly pieces of meat, thinly sliced it, and then layered it on the plate as a terrine topped with a burgundy truffle hazelnut vinaigrette.  It is an epic dish.

scallopsBay scallops perfectly cooked with cervelle de veau (that would be beef brains) in little bite-sized morsels with mushrooms.  Not sure what the sauce was but guarantee it had butter in it as there is plenty used throughout the meal.

chickenRoast chicken served with potato dumplings, mustard and escarole.  Just how you want chicken…juicy.

lambCharcoal roasted lamb with nettles and a side of thick rich buttery thinly sliced potatoes layered on top of each other.

souffleWe had put in for the souffle early on as it is recommended.  Tonights souffle was gingerbread like.  It was good but almost too much sugar and butter.

chocolateOn the other hand we noticed our neighbors eating the chocolate tart and opted for one of those too.  Wow. A dark chocolate fluffy melt in your mouth that was far from one dimensional.

I can hardly wait to get back.  My guess is the menu is always changing so I am looking forward to the next bit of goodness coming out of the kitchen on our next visit.

What is luxury?

images-2Luxury is word tossed around in the start-up world.  A definition I found on luxury is a material object, service, etc., conducive to sumptuous living, usually a delicacy, elegance, or refinement of living rather than a necessity.  When I think of luxury items that is exactly what I think of….something not necessary. 

Luxury brands have been changing for years by going mainstream in order to cast a broader net.  Years ago when all the luxury brands began to expand their wings into any brick and mortar store that they could sell at I remember an experience I had.  I went into Scoop (a “luxury” chain that no longer exists) and tried on a sweater that I liked.  I hemmed and hawed because it was expensive and wasn’t sure I loved it.  The sales person tells me that there are only a few left and I essentially need to decide now.  I was totally turned off and made a mental note to myself that this was not a good sign.

My friend just started a blog called Dandelion Chandelier.  She is writing about the intersection of luxury, technology and marketing.  A worthy read.  She is thinking a lot about the topic of luxury, where it is going and where it has come from.

The product market is changing.  It has to change.  Malls are empty.  Department stores are lost.  Clothing companies like the Gap and Abercrombie are dying.  New brands are being built outside of ready to wear such as home furnishings.  Ready to wear brands need to know who their customer is.  How to create small lines that turn quickly.  If you don’t buy them when you see them they will be gone tomorrow.  Get consumers out of the wait and buy at discount mentality.  It is the small brands that have zeroed in on their customer who can be agile that will win.  They might not be the next $1b brand but that is ok, they are a generation of entrepreneurs who are going to do just fine by owning their own lives, their own businesses and be the leaders in the shifting of consumer spending.

 

Kiki’s

cornerKiki’s is a Greek restaurant on the lower east side.  It is located in an area of the city that I love.  It is still gritty and feels like NYC to me.  Kiki’s fits in perfectly.  Located on the corner of Division and East Broadway in an old Chinese restaurant.  Inside the restaurant is old school with wooden beams and rambling rooms.  The place is a lot larger than you think but each room is small but keep walking and walking and walking into other rooms.

forksThe menu is quite large and 100% Greek.  We seem to gravitate to the exact same thing no matter where we eat Greek.  The silverware and napkins in the Greek can is a nice touch.

grekWe started with the Greek salad.  Love the block of feta on top and a mixture of oregano and olive oil.

octoGrilled octopus with a slight smoky flavor.

fishA whole fish with sauce on the side.  This was a bit dry.

lambLamb chops that are really tasty.  A bit over cooked so order rare if you want it medium rare.

I’d totally go back.  It’s fun, it’s casual and it feels like old NYC.

Atoboy

Josh made his way there about a week after Atoboy opened and raved.  He went back a few times before heading off to school.  I made a reservation for when we returned.  Had to check it out ourselves.

attoboyA husband and wife team putting out creative Korean food.  The restaurant is long with grey washed walls and wooden seating on both sides creating a very urban edgy vibe.  They have definitely thought of each detail down to the ecru aprons worn by the waitstaff.  The staff couldn’t be nicer.

wineThe menu constantly changes and they recommend 3 dishes per person.  There were four of us so we essentially tasted almost everything on the menu that evening.  Some were excellent and others were just ok. Every dish is roughly the same size.  We opted for a dry Gruner this evening.  They do have sakes and other cocktails too.

eggplantOur first few dishes started with eggplant roasted into a pulp and then mashed with pieces of snow crab, tomato and lemon.

tofuPieces of crispy tofu with soybean, king oyster mushrooms and a mustard sauce.

clamsLittleneck clams mixed with avocado, rice crackers and a Korean red pepper flakes.

tartareThinly sliced pieces of beef tartare served with super thin fries.

asparagusOur next four started with asparagus with spicy code roe, shallots and egg yolk.  This might have been one of my least favorite dishes.

avocadoSliced avocado with horseradish, trout roe and cotija cheese.  This was a really interesting combo.

ricesThey also serve white rice or white rice mixed with other grains.  I liked the mixed grain rice.

cornCaramelized corn with taleggio cheese, bacon and bean paste.  I could have had a bowl to myself.

squidSquid stuffed with chopped pork, shrimp and topped with a salsa verde.  This was really unique and good.

mackerelOur next four were Mackerel with green chilis, radishes and scallions.  This was very salty.

chickenDeep fried pieces of chicken with a spicy peanut butter sauce.  Off the charts.

porkPork jowl over barley, pieces of romaine and spicy Korean paste.  I really liked this too.  The meat was tasty and served like a chicken breast.

brisketBrisket served with foie gras, ginger and garlic.  This was too heavy for me.  Josh loved this.

pannacottaHad to try dessert.  Honey panna cotta was far and away the best dessert served with black rice vinegar and pomegranate.

granitaThe granita with burrata and walnuts did zero for me.

blackraspberryBlack raspberry cake is really beautiful mixed with hazelnuts and pistachios but I didn’t love this either.

All and all really interesting. Dessert isn’t great.  You need to continue to go back and check out new dishes as they come out of the kitchen.  They are creative and over time my guess is the menu will evolve into some bigger plates, smaller plates and some really good things won’t leave the menu like the fried chicken.

It is just part of your DNA

imgresThere is countless research on nurture vs nature.  I do believe nurture goes along way to helping guide nature but trying to change nature is never a good thing.

I recently read Alice Hoffman’s new book, The Marriage of Opposites.  The book was longer than need be but the concept of what you were born to be stuck with me.  A historic fictional book based on the life of Camille Pissaro.  Pissaro came from a Jewish family and the idea of becoming an artist was not in the cards.  Pissaro drew and painted whenever he could.  At one point he says to his mother that he was born with this gift, he sees the world in colors and he was meant to be an artist not to run the family store.

Years ago when the kids were young I went on more playdates with them than I can count.  There was this one little boy who loved music, drawing and dressing up.  I knew him when he was between 4-6.  The parents pushed him to do sports (yes even at that age) and he’d do it but then he would return to the corner with his music.  I remember thinking you are not going to change this kids DNA.  He knows what he enjoys and it isn’t sports.

When Emily was barely 2 my Mom bought her an outfit as a gift when we went to visit her one weekend.  She opened the box, said thank you, put the outfit down and never picked it up again the rest of the weekend.  My Mom said “well she certainly knows what she doesn’t like.  She has no interest in that look”.  Kind of amazing at that age.

It is the same thing with entrepreneurs.  It isn’t a matter of should I start a company but I must start a company because I am literally unemployable.  I need to own and run my own thing.  I moderated a panel years ago with four women founders on it.  I asked them at the end of the panel if their companies fail then what will they do next.  They all said the same thing “I will start another company” and they all laughed.

DNA is a very powerful thing.

Women can we please stay in the public eye?

imgres-1If you take a real look under the covers of history, women perhaps more so than men, were an intrical part of every field from the arts to science.  Maybe women have taken a back seat to their husbands or they just didn’t care about their mark in history.  Whatever the reason this has to change.

The success of NASA had to do with more than a handful of black women engineers.  How come it took until now for me to learn about that?  Did you know that Gymboree, a publicly traded company known by name to families across the country that did over $1 billion in revenue last year was founded by a woman?  I did not know that until Maxine Clark told me about her friend Joan Barnes who founded Gymboree.  Oh, Maxine Clark founded Build-A-Bear.

I read the obituary on Margrit Mondavi who died recently at 91.  We think of Robert Mondavi, her husband, as the wine pioneer that invented the California wine business.  Margrit founded the winery’s summer musical festival, introduced cooking classes to the vineyard and was a major factor in the success of Mondavi.  Who knew?  Nobody every said Robert and Margrit Mondavi.

Ada Lovelace was the first Computer programmer.  Many of Zelda Fitzgeralds stories were published under her husbands name.  There are many many other women who we should know about that made their mark in history.

When we look back at eras around any vertical for whatever reason we read about the men.  The men artists of a particular time, the men directors of a particular time, the men who build companies of a particular time, the men who were the top sports figures of a particular time, the men of medicine, the men of everything.

My request is simple.  Can all of the women who are making their mark in history from sports to art to start-ups to science to whatever, stay in the public eye.  Make sure that your impact is felt in the history books.  That when people write about a time, a genre that your name is mentioned.  We can only do that by working just as hard as we did to achieve our goals to work just as hard to get into the history books.  Enough of the men owning those history books.

How can young girls break that glass ceiling time and time again when there aren’t enough women for them to point to and say “yes, I can be anything I want to be because that woman did it, so I can do it too”.