A Sarcastic Appetite

Museums + Wine

IMG_1773 One of my favorite things to do is to check out a new museum exhibit….followed by wine somewhere great. It’s a win-win; I feel like I am actually taking advantage of living in New York, and then when I’m traumatized by the hordes of people also taking advantage of being in New York, I can retreat to a nearby bar over a glass of something delicious. (I also call these excursions “winetivities”…don’t tell my mother.)

So here’s what you need to see…and where you need to get a drink afterwards. Let me know how it goes.

What to see: Chagall: Love, War & Exile at the Jewish Museum (92nd and Madison)

Where to drink: Demarchelier (86th and Madison)

The Jewish Museum’s impressive exhibit explores Chagall’s wartime work, when he was living in Paris and later New York, from 1930-1948. His paintings during this time are haunting, with Biblical symbols (the Crucifixion was of utmost interest to Chagall, and often a symbol for the persecution of the Jews during the Holocaust) as well as other symbols of Russian folklore. When his wife Bella died suddenly in 1944, his paintings took on a more intimate sense of loss. Picasso is said to have remarked, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”

If you go on Saturdays, be prepared to be overwhelmed; the museum is free, and the exhibit will be packed. Read this introduction ahead of time. The Jewish Museum is closed on Wednesdays. Tickets are $15 if you don’t go on Saturdays, or you can Pay-What-You-Wish on Thursdays from 5-8pm.

When you’ve had enough, skip down Fifth Avenue to 86th Street, and pop over to Demarchelier for a glass of rosé champagne and some bar bites, including pâté and olives ($5 each).
What to see: Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul and “Lose not heart”: J. D. Salinger’s Letters to an Aspiring Writer at The Morgan Library (36th and Madison)
Where to drink: The Library at the NoMad (28th and Broadway)

Almost 100 items of Poe’s writing – from poetry to literary criticism – are on display until January 4, 2014, including Annabel Lee in Poe’s own hand. Also on display are works from other writers, from Dickens to T.S. Eliot, emphasizing Poe’s broad influence. Admission is $18.

The Morgan also has on exhibit nine letters J.D. Salinger wrote to a young Toronto woman, Marjorie Sheard, which are incredibly revealing of the late reclusive author. Salinger was just 22 when he responded to Marjorie’s request for advice, and The Catcher in the Rye existed only as a short story, “Slight Rebellion off Madison” in The New Yorker.

Once you’ve had your fill – and stopped in to check out Treasures from the Vault in Morgan’s 1906 library – take a stroll over to the NoMad Hotel, on 28th and Broadway. Yes, it’s a bit of a walk, and yes, it’s worth it. Weekend afternoons are a little quieter in this airy two story room replete with actual books (I checked). And the drinks are legendary, though lately I have been partial to the Jäger Zweigelt rosé, made in the Wachau valley in Austria.
What to see: The Tenement Museum (Orchard and Delancey)

Where to drink: Ten Bells (247 Broome Street, between Ludlow and Orchard)

The Tenement Museum, a National Historic Site, is one of the more underrated museums in the city. It requires a bit more planning; the best way to see the museum is through one of the many tours offered, and you’ll need a day or two’s notice as they tend to sell out. (Note most are not air-conditioned, so in August skip the tour and head straight to Ten Bells.) Tickets are $22.

When you’re ready for a drink, walk through the large, unmarked door at 247 Broome and you’ll find yourself a little oasis in Ten Bells. I’ve written about this place before and I think its wine list alone is worth the trek. It’s quiet in the afternoons, but definitely gets packed at night, so be forewarned. The boys at Immaculate Infatuation were not overwhelmed with it as a dinner destination, so just keep it in your back pocket for a late afternoon tipple.