Thursday, September 19, 2013

Country Mouse in the City, Part One: Nolita

Hello there, dear readers!  Pam here, Winter Water Factory's new Retail Marketing Manager.  Except for my brief stint as the WWF intern last summer, I'm more or less a fairly recent transplant to New York City.  You could even say that I'm a relative newcomer to city life itself, as you can see from the picture below, taken during Thanksgiving last year.

It was a little crowded around the dinner table with all these guys hanging about.

I love exploring new places, and the neighborhoods of New York City are overflowing with hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered.  And so, I've decided to document my adventures around this fair city, including both fabulous finds and unfortunate failures, to be fair.  

For my first installment of Country Mouse in the City (A Beginner's Guide to the Big Apple), I decided to wander around north of Little Italy, aka Nolita, in Manhattan.  

Clockwise from L to R: map of Nolita; the places I intended to visit; notepad from Cafe Gitane; menu from The Butcher's Daughter; postcard from Cafe Gitane

My first stop was at Cafe Gitane on Mott Street.  This popular lunch spot was packed with stylish artist-types and a model or two taking a break from the Fashion Week runway. 

This place was well worth the long wait, for their brand of French-Moroccan dishes did not disappoint.  I settled on the aioli and parmesan grilled bread with prosciutto and mixed greens.  The cantaloupe balls in the middle of the prosciutto added a nice sweetness to the meal, but the undeniable star of the dish had to be the bread, which left me longing for another slice.  My mouth waters just thinking about it, in fact.  Note, however, that Cafe Gitane is cash only.  I learned this the hard way and had to leave my camera behind as collateral while I ran to the closest ATM.

Believe it or not, this plate tasted even better than it looks.

After lunch, I headed down Mulberry Street to check out the Feast of San Gennaro celebrations.  This tradition, which was started in 1926 by newly arrived Italian immigrants, celebrates San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples.  From what I could tell, the set-up seemed to satisfy the requirements for a rollicking good street festival, with an extra dash of sausage and cannoli.

My next stop was at Sweet William, a local children's clothing boutique with locations in both Nolita and Williamsburg in Brooklyn.  The store carries high-quality products from environmentally- and ethically-conscious manufacturers (which just happens to include Winter Water Factory items!)

Our Savannah Dress in Berries Red & Grey.
A featured display of tiny tees for tiny tots.
Winter Forest is quickly becoming one of our classic prints!
On my way to my next destination, I stumbled upon The Butcher's Daughter, a juice bar and cafe that claims to "treat fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat."  I stopped by later that day for an early dinner, and boy, their portabello burger made me consider giving up meat altogether.

Their outdoor seating made for a lovely ambience.

Around the corner from The Butcher's Daughter is their market annex, where you can buy items to-go from the cafe menu, as well as organic products, baked goods, and fresh fruits and veggies.

So vibrant, you can hardly believe they're real.

I then headed toward INA, a designer consignment store with several branches in the city.  I felt a bit awkward taking pictures of Chanel suits and Gucci purses in this posh but fairly affordable shop (well, affordable considering what they were selling), so you'll just have to take my word that they had a great selection of classic designers alongside their younger and hipper counterparts (think Prada meets Proenza Schouler ).

I'm a sucker for a good perfumery, and Le Labo fit the bill perfectly.  Each perfume here is customized and handmade to your liking, and the people behind the counter double as scent scientists of sorts to guide you towards your perfect fragrance.  Granted, their prices are a little on the steep side, but having a scent that corresponds with your personal chemistry has its co$ts.  Le Labo has several boutiques around the world, so if you feel like treating yourself, I recommend seeing if there is a location near you.

Dogs outside Le Labo.  The one on the right does a great grizzly bear impression.

My adventure could not be completed without a brief stop at the neighborhood bookstore.  The colorful and brightly-lit McNally Jackson Books on Prince Street was a pleasant denouement to my day.  An independent bookstore, McNally Jackson gives big-name chains a run for their money with a wide selection of books, primarily arranged by nation.

Taken from behind the "England and Ireland" section.
To cap off my day, I grabbed a cup of the Guatemalan cold brew from Gimme! Coffee, a small chain of espresso bars based out of Ithaca.  I usually drink my coffee (hot or cold) with a dash of milk, but I sipped on the brew black for a bit and was extremely impressed.

...but then I caved into my habits and poured in a dash of milk anyway.
Stay tuned for the next episode of Country Mouse in the City, where I'll attempt not to get run over by traffic and probably forget cash (again).  If you have any suggestions for a neighborhood I should scope out, please let me know in the comments!

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