Dragons and Chocolate

The weather warmed to the 50s this weekend, so Ashley and I (and everyone in the city, it appeared) felt compelled to get outside to enjoy the warmth. We decided to go for one of our big walks around New York. Having missed Ashley’s tour of Brooklyn for my parents, I was eager to see some the sites they had all enjoyed. Ashley was particularly excited to have me try Jacques Torres’s hot chocolate. (Or was it she who was excited to have it again?) So we decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to DUMBO. We walked down through NoLiTa (North of little Italy) before hearing the pounding of drums coming from Chinatown.

We had missed the Chinese New Year’s day parade, but the celebrations were continuing this

weekend. We shared the streets with packs of roaming lion and dragon dance troupes: Each lion or dragon was animated by multiple men, and accompanied by a group of stoic, but vigorous percussionists. The main beat came from a drum larger than a wine barrel that, along with its
player, was pulled about in a hand cart. Store owners would grab the attention of the groups, hand an organizer a red card which seemed to cue the beasts to attack. A dance with staccato movements, which we had learned last year is designed to evict
evil spirits from the buildings, ensued at the doorway. Ashley and I wandered through
Chinatown, admiring the different lions and dragons. Though the New Years celebrations in San Francisco that I’ve been seem to be characterized by loud firecrackers, New York’s celebrants seem to love their confetti. The clean-up must be terrible, but watching the bright colors float down the sky is pretty fun. We indulged in some poppers, then continued through Chinatown onto the Brooklyn Bridge.

We walked over the bridge and down into DUMBO. When we first moved to New York, we imagined that this neighborhood, named for its situation “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” and more or less also directly beneath the Brooklyn

Bridge, must be rough. That is clearly not the case. In fact, Ashley told me that the “ugly” acronym DUMBO was in part chosen by residents in an attempt to deter gentrification. For better or worse, this scheme has clearly failed: A few blocks off the bridge, and the upscale stores were already apparent.
Ashley and I were pleasantly surprised to find a pop-up antique/flea market in one of the old warehouses. We wandered around looking for old prints and gilded frames, and Ashley found a dress which she ended up buying but declined to model for this blog. Daily Candy helped sponsor the event: across the street they had a gift give-away (we won some peppermint boot warmers and a sample of coffee-mint body wash after demo-ing our bean bag throwing skills). We saw some craft jewelry and we sampled a mini banana cupcake. Though tempted to indulge in more of the culinary offerings, we had a singular goal when it came to gourmet food.

After a little shopping, we moved on to Jacques Torres. His hot chocolate is what one might describe as sipping chocolate. Thick and incredibly rich, it’s almost like drinking melted chocolate. It was amazing. JT has three different types—w icked, mocha, and classic; the wicked, what we chose, has hints of allspice, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, and smoked chipotle chili peppers which give the chocolate a wonderful spike.

Feeling stuffed after sharing a small cup, we walked out to the park under the bridge, beside the water, and admired the view of Manhattan before trekking back over the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked south to Battery Park before curving back up from the tip of the island to TriBeCa (another

descriptive acronym, this one stands for Triangle Below Canal Street). After some research at Barnes and Noble (click on the link, buy a book, and save my wife’s parent company!) for our upcoming vacation, we went to Whole Foods next door to buy dinner for the evening (beef tenderloin!) before walking home.

Though more freezing weather will undoubtedly return before spring settles in, it sure felt good to get outside without our huge coats!

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