Nom Wah Tea Parlor #chinatown #tea #nyc
I’m Nora Walsh, the founder of Patchwork Compass. My greatest passion in life is traveling to new destinations, experiencing foreign cultures and connecting with all walks of life.
I started Patchwork Compass to provide inspiring content and practical travel information to help others navigate their journeys.
This weekend I dusted off my bike for its first summer spin. My friend Mariana and I wanted to enjoy the summer weather splashing around in Red Hook’s public pool. We biked the four miles from the East Village to Red Hook in about 45-minutes.
Over the last four years, New York City has added more than 250 miles of bike lanes, including expanded lanes on First and Second Avenue that make bicycling downtown much quicker and safer. We used the Google Maps app on the iPhone to get us across Brooklyn to Red Hook.
Lower Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Smith Street, Brooklyn
Smith Street, Brooklyn
When we finally arrived to the Red Hook Rec Center, we learned that the pool was closed until the following weekend. I wasn’t too surprised because I had read that all public pools in New York City wouldn’t open until June 28, 2012, but I had also found another website for Red Hook Pool that provided contrary information. Since no one answered the phone when I called the numbers listed, we took our chances and rolled the dice.
We of course lost that bet, but as Ralph liked to quip, “life is a journey, not a destination,” so we cut our losses and plopped ourselves down under a shady tree in a quiet park across the street.
(To follow the Red Hook biking journey back to the Lower East Side, read Part II tomorrow.)
Excited for the anticipated return of the Hester Street Summer Fair, I had Sunday brunch on Hester Street at orange épicerie with a group of friends who had just finished running the New York City half marathon to raise money for The Lower East Side Girls Club.
The new color blocking concept eatery Green Brown Orange in Chinatown is the brainchild of Mexican chef and entrepreneur Alejandro Alcocer, who is interested in serving local ingredients that are simply and deliciously prepared.
Alcocer is also an avid traveler and writer who spends about six months in New York City and the rest of his time being pulled by his curiosity all over the world. This has landed him more than once in a tribe of pygmies in Central Africa to which he was subsequently initiated.
Brown cafe is the main hub of this three part dining venture. The space was designed by Alcocer himself and offers a sunny niche to enjoy a meal or a quick coffee.
We were treated to a private brunch in the orange épicerie dining room, which is located right next door to brown cafe. They even share a bathroom.
The design aesthetic was a reflection of the food: warm, simple and satisfying.
My husband and I split the Apline Breakfast Platter, baked eggs with wild boar sausage, leeks, gruyere and a side of roasted potatoes and mixed greens, plus baked eggs with tomatoes, asparagus and manchego cheese.
Our adorable waiter Garrick provided impeccable and friendly service, and also let us know the chef is happy to make any dish vegetation or lactose free (they mix heavy cream with the baked eggs).
As a special treat he brought us freshly baked complimentary banana nut muffins which they bake in-house. The rest of the pastries they buy from CeciCela Patisserie in Soho.
Great way to spend a Sunday.
On a cold snowy day, hot soup always warms me up. A friend who went to med school in Boston recommended her favorite local Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown: Pho Hoa.
I ordered vegetarian Pho. It was cheap and delicious, my kind of combo.
To celebrate Halloween, I slipped behind a wooden door in a tucked away corner in Chinatown and was transported into a smoky 19th century absinthe den.
Stepping into the the candlelit bar, I was greeted by a row of pearled flappers clutching their long stemmed cigarettes and had my own private Midnight in Paris moment.
Apotheke’s design is dramatic in its own right, but the brother and sister owners, Heather and Christopher Tierney, did a nice job of adding the right amount of ghoul to the party.
Not only did the staff look appropriately festive in their attire, they also mixed incredible cocktails, and gave excellent and friendly service.
Our Romanian cocktail waitress, Lonetta, was engaging and attentive and Kyle behind the bar treated us like old friends; both a rarity, especially on a holiday.
I started off the cocktail tasting with Root of the Earth, which is a combination of house-made beet-cognac reduction, rum, vanilla essence, agave nectar and lime.
Then I moved to possibly two of the best cocktails I have ever tasted: Fresh Start, which tastes like a Japanese ginger health drink and the Chinatown Julep, a clean mojito-like cocktail with just the right amount of fresh mint, minus the excessive sugar.
A cocktail sells me if the alcohol is plentiful but so well-masked by delicious ingredients that you cannot even discern the base liquor. And when the herb and fruit ingredients are sourced from local green markets or plucked from the bar’s rooftop garden, I am hooked.
I didn’t feel resentful for the $18 price tag because I truly enjoyed every sip. I am not lavish spender, but I will pay for quality.
The music was also excellent, and set the mood for every stage of the evening. I was pleased when the beat moved us from an intimate corner booth and out on the dance floor so we could finally release our Halloween demons.