When I left for New York City I was feeling low. Really low. I had just been fired. When I got to the airport the next morning, my eyes were still swollen from all the tears. It was awful, but it was also perfect timing. Why? Because I can’t be sad in New York, it’s impossible for me. I don’t know any other place in the US where one can immerse themselves so deeply in art, beauty, and good food. NY is nothing short of Paradise for me.
My first day was spent browsing the Whitney (which I wasn’t terribly impressed by), but on my second day I had planned a little afternoon tea with the dear Adele. No, I had never met her before, but I knew we were going to be great friends. By the time we met, I felt like we already had a bit of history together.
But first, I got my hair done at Warren Tricomi on Madison Avenue (after stuffing a sinfully delicious Levain cookie in into my belly). I got an awesome hair cut from a guy called Anthony, and I left the salon feeling like a million dollars. I was ready for my visit with Adele at the Neue Galerie, only a few steps away.
The Neue Galerie is much more my thing than the Whitney. In fact, it’s exactly my thing. The focus is on early twentieth-century German and Austrian art. They have a lot of paintings by Gustav Klimt, one of my favorites. The painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer (aka Woman in Gold) is probably it’s most famous inhabitant. At $135 million, she is the most expensive painting ever to be purchased. Back in 2006, there was great controversy and a lengthy legal battle surrounding her move to America. She was stolen from a wealthy Jewish family by the Germans in Nazi occupied Austria.There is an absolutely wonderful movie about this painting called Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren. It was a real tear jerker for me. Maybe it got me so deeply because not so long ago I thought I would end up moving to Vienna, or maybe it’s because my grandmother’s grandmother was an Austrian Jew herself. She came to this country when she was already an old woman, but she was the first of our family to make the journey. While aesthetically this is not my favorite of Klimt’s paintings, the story behind it gives it great meaning and beauty to me, and so it was a great pleasure when I was finally able to meet Adele in person.
As with any painting, the images you see in books or on the computer screen never come close to standing right in front of the real thing. You loose the sense of scale and texture. You loose the feeling of luxury conveyed by the heavy usage of gold leaf. I like Adele. She is a true woman. While her body is painted in a very two dimensional format, her expression is definitely complex. Although surrounded by opulence her face has a kind of disquiet about it. She looks unsure of herself, questioning, slightly tired … hmmm, maybe we are related LOL.
Adele was surrounded by some other beautiful examples of Klimt’s work:
Alright, it’s tea time. Housed in the Neue Galerie is Cafe Sabarsky. I have been to Vienna twice, and I can tell you, this cafe would not be amiss there with it’s discreet and unrushed service, the dark wood paneling, and the glow of the chandelier above. Sitting there I was flooded with so many memories. Thank goodness I was armed with my fab new haircut and these beautiful ladies by my side or it would have been quite likely that I would have teared up a little. Nope, instead I focused on the tempting cakes on display. Let’s do this proper and order the Sacher Torte, shall we?
Now to the nitty gritty, the cake! When you look at this slice of cake, or any slice of Sacher Torte for that matter, I have found that they always look a lot more chocolatey than they are. Except for the slick layer chocolate ganache on top, in the actual cake part, the prominent flavor is apricot believe it or not. There is a layer of almost invisible apricot jam in the middle of the cake that is meant to keep this very dense cake moist. The chocolate flavor pretty much all rests in that glossy coating. While it would be lovely if this cake offered an intense chocolate hit, I wasn’t disappointed, because I’ve had this cake in Austria, and I knew what to expect. I just wanted to relive a memory … food is awesome like that. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this cake as a NYC must eat, I would most certainly recommend a visit to the bijoux beauty that is the Neue Galerie, and of course, some tea and cake at Cafe Sabarsky… just maybe a different cake LOL. I’m sure Adele would appreciate a chance to shoot the breeze. She has an amazing story to tell.