Last summer, Will and I visited Island Beach, a little island park in Greenwich, CT inside Long Island Sound. The beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and can only be reached by private boat or ferry. If you’re a resident of Greenwich, your beach pass will get you there. Non-residents can buy a day pass and ferry ticket. The ride over to the island takes about 20 minutes and runs every half hour on the weekends from 10am-7pm. The beach has plenty of shade, picnic tables and 1,000 feet of sand with areas for swimming and boating. It will be opening for the season next week and it’s a perfect place to spend a hot summer day!
For our last anniversary, Will and I decided to visit Per Se, Thomas Keller’s highly acclaimed restaurant in New York City. Reservations have to be made a month in advance and the menu is prix fixe, 5 courses for lunch and 9 courses for dinner. The view of Central Park was beautiful and we were very impressed that they accomodated our gluten free lifestyle.
We didn’t think the food was the best we’ve had in New York, but the dishes were creative and it was a fun experience. Our favorite dishes were the pork belly with cherries and the coffee and donuts! Click in to one of my pictures to see more of our courses – all gluten free!
Over the summer, Will and I took a day trip to Philadelphia to check out two newly opened art venues, the Rodin Museum and the Barnes Foundation. Both are located in the downtown area, close to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Rodin Museum, which just completed a $9 million renovation, is small but effective. It houses over 140 pieces by French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, the most famous being The Thinker and The Gates of Hell. The layout is compact, but the space is large enough to wander around the statues and really get a good look at them. While you can get through the exhibits fairly quickly, it may be hard to pull yourself away from the beautiful french garden and reflecting pool outside.
Directly across the street sits the brand new Barnes Foundation, featuring the art collection of the late chemist, Albert C. Barnes. Moving it to Philly was controversial as one of Barnes’ dying wishes was that his treasures always be kept in his personal gallery in Merion, PA. The intention was to keep the rooms homey and intimate, like Barnes’ original setup and, while this is achieved, the presentation is so cluttered and crowded that the paintings get lost in a sea of bobbing heads and nearly overlapping frames. This is extremely unfortunate given that the Barnes collection is perhaps the finest and most important collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art in existence. In addition to holding the largest number of Renoirs in the world, 181, it also boasts 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses and 46 Picassos. The collection is amazing and, ultimately, too overwhelming.
Nothing says summer like a big banana split! From June 8-9th, the sundae gets its own festival in the city of its birth, Wilmington, OH. There’s a 5K, a car show and a build your own banana split stand. The festivities start with the fierce Banana Split Masters Competition in which professional chefs face off to create the best banana split!
The art world is buzzing about the new installation being built at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art called “Levitated Mass”. Essentially, it’s a 340 ton chunk of granite that will be lifted above a pedestrian walkway allowing visitors to walk under the floating behemoth. While it’s not set to open until this summer, over 20,000 people turned out just to watch the massive boulder arrive at the museum on a custom made rig after an 11 day journey from Riverside County, CA. Some people are saying, “What’s so great about a rock?”, but I think there’s nothing more artistic than nature!
Like mustard? Check out the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin. You can learn about the history of mustard, see over 5,300 jars from 60 countries and taste hundreds of them at the tasting bar. You can also buy a jar of your favorite spread in the gift shop!
If you’re a New Englander like me, you’ve probably spent a lot of time driving on Interstate 95 and you know how boring it is. Will and I were in the middle of one such tedious drive a few weeks ago when we came across a new sign for the PEZ Visitors Center in Orange, CT. The candy company has been located in Orange since 1973 but the new public venue only just opened in late December 2011. Of course we had to check it out! The complex is relatively small, but it’s packed with PEZ history and memorabilia. You can see the world’s largest PEZ dispenser, many limited edition dispensers and probably the one you had as a kid….no matter how old you are. During the week, you can even watch the PEZ production and shipping process! Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children & seniors (kids under 3 are free) and each ticket includes a $2 coupon for the PEZ store. It’s a fun little stop if you’re in the area.
Forget about cheese and chocolate, the latest fondue craze is ice! First you take a piece of fruit, cake or marshmallow and dip it in a topping like chocolate or cream. Then you submerge the entire thing in a bowl of liquid nitrogen for 5 seconds to create an icy treat. Currently, ice fondue is available at several restaurants in the Netherlands and Belgium. Check out their website for more info and locations.
In Collinsville, Illinois, just 12 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri you can find the world’s largest catsup bottle. It’s actually a 170ft water tower that was built for the G.S. Suppiger catsup bottling plant in 1949. Although it was set for demolition, it was saved and restored to it’s former glory by a preservation group in 1995. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and gets visitors every day…it even has it’s own fan club!
It took 27 years but, on August 22nd, the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial opened to the public in Washington D.C. Standing 27 feet tall, it’s carved into a slab of granite on the National Mall. Next to the statue there is a stone wall inscribed with quotes from King. The memorial has been met with a variety of accolades and criticisms, but that is not uncommon when a new museum or statue goes up. At the end of the day, it’s fitting that King is a permanent fixture on the Mall and hopefully he’ll inspire visitors for years to come. An official dedication ceremony is scheduled for October 16th on the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March.