Friday, September 29, 2006

A Tiny Taste of the Silk Road

The Silk Road is an ancient trading route that stretches over high mountains and arid deserts to connect Europe with China. Just the words Silk Road conjure up visions of fearless nomads, dauntless explorers, isolated villagers, exotic cities, extraordinary landscapes and rare treasures.

It is still possible to follow the storied course; you can fly to Rome and go East, or start in Beijing and head westward. But if a long, expensive journey isn't possible, you can find a small sample some of the sights and sounds found along Silk Road without leaving the city.

Tonight's journey began in a curtained niche at Khyber Pass, an Afghani restaurant on St. Mark's Place, where diners sat on tapestry-covered cushions. While sitars, ouds and drums played, the low table was covered with fragrant, steaming platters of mantoo (steamed dumplings filled with minced beef, onions, herbs and spices, served with a yogurt and meat sauce), fesenjan (boneless pieces of chicken cooked with walnuts and pomegranate juice), boulanee kadu (turnovers filled with pumpkin and served with a creamy yogurt dip), quorma sabzee (spicy spinach, coriander, scallions, lamb and rice), a basket of dense, golden Afghani bread and cups of Turkish coffee and shir-chay (a traditional pink tea brewed with mik, sugar, cardamom and rose petals).

Dinner was followed by a short walk to Chelsea. There the Rubin Museum of Art, dedicated to the art of the Himalayas and surrounding regions, offered another step along the Silk Road: an exhibition entitled I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion. The show presents the history, art and culture of the Sikh religion, which was founded in northern India in the 15th century.

The museum, located in a 70,000 square-foot building that once housed a chic department store, opened less than two years ago. It includes a steel and marble staircase that spirals dramatically through the seven-story gallery tower and, surprisingly, a dimly-lit cocktail lounge on the ground floor.

Admission to the Rubin Museum of Art, normally $10, is free Friday evenings from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. Dinner at Khyber Pass is about $20 per person. Budget tours of the Silk Road start at about $1,700, not including air fare from New York to China.

I See No Stranger Posted by Picasa

  • Rubin Museum of Art

  • New York Times: Wonders of Sikh Spirituality

  • AM New York: The World of the Sikh

  • Khyber Pass Restaurant

  • Menu Pages: Khyber Pass Restaurant

  • Tours of The Silk Road

  • The Silk Road Project
  • Sunday, September 17, 2006

    The 32nd Annual Atlantic Antic

    Another September, another Sunday devoted to the best, most diverse, most lively street fair in New York City. While many festivals and fairs have become homogenized and interchangeable, the Atlantic Antic retains the unique character of the street on which it is held.

    Atlanic Avenue is a broad boulevard that cuts a swath across Brooklyn, from the waterfront to the Queens border, and spans a wide variety of cultural, religious and economic groups. Despite any traditional constraints, during the Antic the peoples of dozens of regions and nations come together to have a good time.

    Fairgoers easily break into dance as soul, rockabilly, hip-hop, jazz, country, middle eastern, mariachi, rock & roll, folk, salsa, jug band and gospel music fills the air from the street and from half-a-dozen stages.

    The Avenue's best taverns and restaurants set up seating areas and serve their food and drink outdoors, but experienced fairgoers head straight for the homemade goodies as the local church, mosque, temple and synagogue ladies present their specialties: bacalaitos, pastelles, empanadillas, rugelach, hammentaschen, baklava, coconut cake, blueberry cobbler, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, fried chicken, sweet potato pie, iced tea and strawberry lemonade.

    From morning to night thousands of Brooklynites (both old and new) come out to stroll, sit, shop, eat, drink, mingle, explore and learn a little more about their city, their heritage and each other.

    NYPD officer on Atlantic Avenue Posted by Picasa

    Man chewing a piece of straw Posted by Picasa

    Woman with tattooed feet and shins Posted by Picasa

    Amar the belly dancer Posted by Picasa

    Omar the belly dancer Posted by Picasa

    Girl with Miss New York sash Posted by Picasa

    DJ with a turntable Posted by Picasa

    Man with a baby on his shoulders Posted by Picasa

    Girl in a Yes, I Have An Attitude t-shirt Posted by Picasa

    Man making balloon sculptures Posted by Picasa

    Girl in cheeseburger hat Posted by Picasa

    Man with a Mexican noisemaker Posted by Picasa

    Boy in a white t-shirt Posted by Picasa

    Singer with a red belt Posted by Picasa

    Man with red bike Posted by Picasa

    Woman in a straw hat Posted by Picasa

    Couple in Belarussian dress Posted by Picasa

    Man wearing a Jimmy Buffett t-shirt Posted by Picasa

    Woman in a Belleza Latina sash Posted by Picasa

    Man in a NYU Greeks t-shirt Posted by Picasa

    Woman in a red cap Posted by Picasa

    Kids at a Pentecostal church Posted by Picasa

    Man with a bicycle Posted by Picasa

    Hip-hoppers in plaid shirts Posted by Picasa

  • Atlantic Antic 2006

  • Atlantic Antic 2005

  • Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association

  • The Arab-American Family Support Center

  • Kane Street Synagogue

  • Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club

  • Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

  • Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development

  • Willowtown Association

  • Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment

  • Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts

  • Brooklyn Public Library

  • Brooklyn Community Access Television

  • Magnetic Field

  • Waterfront Ale House

  • Floyd

  • Last Exit

  • Brawta Carribean Cafe

  • La Mancha

  • The Soul Spot

  • The Chip Shop

  • Musician's General Store

  • Urban Organic

  • Hope Vet

  • Providence Day Spa

  • Sahadi's