Thursday, February 21, 2008

The macaroons at Madeleine on 23rd between 6th/7th Aves (Inner Borough) are the best I’ve ever had. The coconut blood orange, in particular. I was given some last night. (Thanks, sweet OHS.) The aforementioned flavor, plus chocolate, and cassis. Now, the “macaroon” comes in a number of different forms, notably the little coconut mountain familiar to most ‘Mericans and the French-style sandwich cookie made with almond meringue. These were sandwich-style, but with coconut instead of the almond. Sheer synthesis. Kids, beware: don’t attempt to eat these for breakfast unless you’re a professional. Here's someone I don't know's picture of said sugar miracles.

It was clear last night, so the total lunar eclipse was perfectly visible. The pale gray orb was blushing in the shadow of the earth. It was damn cold, though, so a trip to the beach to dance naked (except for blue paint like my Pictish ancestors) seemed out of the question. (The gods’ will be appeased in other ways. I’ll pour libations for them on Saturday.)

I signed up for a speakeasy dinner, where strangers come together to eat in the home or other space of a semi-underground culinary operation, but evidently I wasn’t cool enough to be one of the “rad fellow eaters from your community.” I say evidently because I didn’t get any response at all, which is just bad manners. So much for that link.

There’s a 1845 (45!) US Survey of the Coast chart on display in the Map Division of NYPL that shows New York Bay that you must see. You can also see it here -- use the pan & zoom feature -- but not nearly as majestically. Next to it is the bright plate it was printed from, beautifully etched. What’s most interesting to me is that the landforms are as detailed as the sea soundings. The terminal moraine that makes the uplands of Brooklyn is nicely detailed. The moraine, represented in all the Heights, Hills, & Slopes found in neighborhood names, is till and rubble-scrapings deposited by the last glacier. Mount Prospect is a major landmark here; today, this second highest point in the borough is a bit forlorn behind BPL’s Central Library at Grand Army Plaza, but it was originally part of the plan of Prospect Park, hence the park’s name; Olmsted & Vaux vetoed the section because of the problem of having to cross Flatbush Avenue (they’d already had to suffer from the troublesome transverses in Central Park; live, learn, & make a better park). Go southeast through the Midwood in Prospect and you flat-line in the flatlands, beyond the terminus of the glaciers. This is the outwash plain, washing all the way to the sea, including Pelican Beach & Barren Island, east of Coney towards Rockaway Inlet but now lost to the map. Back on the other side of the hills (they don’t seem like much, these hills, but those god-damned Hessian mercenaries sure thought they were a pain in the ass back in ‘76) is Gowanus; south of the grid of Brooklyn town, it stretches east (there is no Park Slope), and Red Hook tries to snag fish to the west.

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