A Visit to the Tenement Museum

tenement_logo

One of my goals living in New York has been to do the New York activities. Well it’s kind of taken me leaving to get to some of them. One of the ones that has been high up on my list has been to go to the Tenement Museum. The concept behind the Tenement Museum is really cool, in the late 80’s, two women wanted to create a museum to the immigrant experience that centered around the Lower East Side starting in the 1800’s (as early as 1830s & 40s). They fell upon 97 Orchard Street. 97 Orchard Street had been a tenement house, in fact one of the earlier built ones, in the 1860’s but in the 1940’s when housing laws were getting more strict, the owner couldn’t afford to fireproof the building and so just sealed the upper floors shut. It stayed that way for forty some years and now has been made into a museum.

For a great book about the building, there is a book called 97 Orchard that tells the story through the edible history of the family-a great book that I completely recommend. The book talks about the families from different countries and religions based on the foods that they ate but also gave a good description of life in the tenement.

My roommate and I went on a tour entitled Sweatshop Workers. The tour centered around two Jewish families from the turn of the 20th century, the Levin’s and the Rogarshevsky’s that both lived in the building. The Levin’s lived in the building and the husband also ran a sweatshop in his front room and main room, employing three other people. The Levins ultimately moved to Williamsburg where Mr. Levin ended up working in the garment industry outside of the home. We got to see a sweet picture of his three daughters at the wedding of one of their grandchildren in the 70’s.

Levin_Front_Room

The front room of the Levin’s house where dresses were put together.

Levin_Kitchen

The Levin’s main room with the stove.

The other family’s apartment that we saw were the Rogarshevskys. They had the same size apartment but lived in the tenement slightly later than the Levins. They also had six children living there. I cannot even imagine how eight people lived in three rooms. The older two girls worked in a factory as did the father. The father was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1916 and passed way in 1918. Mrs. Rogarshevsky was actually quite brilliant and used her skill as a master housekeeper to become the superintendent of the building and was actually permitted to live there long after everyone else had been evicted.

Tenement_Apartment

A Tenement Apartment that had not been replicated.

The entire neighborhood has existed as somewhat of an entry point for new Americans and the streets have even represented that.

Allen Street, Avenue of the Immigrants

There are still remnants of the large Jewish community that remained throughout the Lower East Side and we walked near some of them but ultimately were curtailed by the massive rainstorms.

A Synagogue Economy Candy

97 Orchard Street “97 Orchard Street-built in 1863-64 by Lucas Glockner, a German-born tailor, 97 Orchard Street is typical of the earliest form of tenement house constructed in New York. For millions of immigrants from scores of nations, this tenement and others like it was a place of first settlement in America. We salute them as our urban pioneers on the municipal frontier.

This is the first tenement to be individually listed on the National Register of Historical Places by the United States Department of the Interior. September, 1992.”

My family’s immigration story is a bit different, my mother’s family immigrated directly prior to and following WWII and lived in Upstate New York, Lockport, near Buffalo before moving to California. I’m not sure if my father’s family lived in the Lower East Side at all but my dad’s grandfather definitely came in the right time period-landing at Ellis Island in 1906. My dad’s mother’s family came earlier and unfortunately I haven’t been able to discover much about her family although I would really love to.

It’s interesting to think how our family histories play such an important part in where we end up today and I wish I knew more about certain pieces of my family history. Regardless, the Tenement Museum offers quality tours and quality historical documentation on a huge piece of the American Immigration experience.

Foodie Fridays: ABC Kitchen

Way back also in February (it was a busy month!) we went to ABC Kitchen.  Jen had been talking up ABC Kitchen for a long time-it’s near her work and it’s apparently the restaurant the celebrity chefs go to (see my post on Elizabeth Falkner).   Jen has had a reputation of picking very cute restaurants with not so great food but with this restaurant and Beauty and Essex, she’s redeemed herself greatly!

Jen at ABC Kitchen entrance

Jen at ABC Kitchen entrance

The restaurant is very beautifully designed, straight to the entrance.  It’s also attached to a store which has an eclectic arrangement of furniture, jewelry, housewares and other stuff.

ABC Kitchen Collage

The one inconsistency was that the music didn’t seem to fit with the decor.  But the food more than made up for that!

We started with drinks.  Jen and I had a blood orange Bellini:

Blood Orange Bellinis

“A real panty dropper”-Jen as she enjoyed her second.

Russell enjoyed a Sour Cherry Old Fashioned and didn’t seem quite as excited as Jen but still enjoyed it.

We then shared several appetizers: line caught tuna sashimi with fresh ginger and mint,  housemade ricotta yogurt with apple compote, roasted beets with homemade yogurt, wood oven roasted sunchokes hazelnuts and herbs, roasted kabocha squash toast with fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar and roasted butternut squash with goat cheese, hazelnuts and spicy onions:

ABC Appetizers

I personally found the squash with the spicy onions too spicy for my taste but loved the kabocha squash and the sashimi.

For our main courses Jen and I split a burger and Russell had the ricotta ravioli.  It was all very good:

Cheeseburger with rosemary herbed mayo

Ricotta Ravioli

 

We then split desserts:

Red Wine Poached Pear with housemade gianduja ganache and hazelnut ice cream

Red Wine Poached Pear with housemade gianduja ganache and hazelnut ice cream

Honey Cheesecake Tart with grapefruit candied kumquats, meyer lemon buttermilk and blood orange sorbet

Honey Cheesecake Tart with grapefruit candied kumquats, meyer lemon buttermilk and blood orange sorbet

Sundae with salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn with chocolate sauce

Sundae with salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn with chocolate sauce

All the desserts were delicious but I was completely in love with the sundae-the salty and sweet was AMAZING!

And one final shot of glamorous Jen looking super hot:

Glamour Jen

The food was definitely wonderful-Jen has redeemed herself in restaurant findings!

 

 

Foodie Fridays: Beauty and Essex

I’ve decided to post all the food based posts on Fridays because well, I like the name Foodie Friday :).

In February (yes forever and ever ago) I took an HTML class.  During the class, my biffle, Jen, texted asking if I wanted to do dinner in the city afterwards with my roomie, Russell (all common characters in my blog).  She chose the restaurant, Beauty and Essex.  Beauty and Essex is owned by Chris Santos, one of the Food Network chefs and a frequent Chopped judge–one of my faves!

Let me just say the restaurant was OUTSTANDING and the decor was so cool!  I definitely need to go back there.  The restaurant is actually kind of hard to find.  It’s on the corner of Delancey and Essex but is fronted by a pawn shop.  It looks like it’s in an industrial building and I honestly would have walked right past had Jen and Russell not been standing there waiting for me.

Because we had reservations we were taken in very quickly.  As I said, the front room is an operational (I think) pawn shop.  Then there is a grand foyer that looks like the entrance to a house.  There are apparently many different rooms.  We were in a room right off the bar.  The dishes are all meant to be shared so we went through and picked a plethora of dishes that at least two of the three of us found appealing.

Jen and I started off with drinks that were delicious.  Russell had a beer that he accidentally dropped but still managed to enjoy most of.

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Jen had a drink called Broken Blossoms with bourbon, vermouth and lemon.  I had a Ruby Mojito which had rum, St. Germain, lemon, mint, and raspberry-lemon soda.  Yum!

They then brought us a pre-appetizer:

Cracker with beet puree and creme fraiche

Cracker with beet puree and creme fraiche

The menu tends to follow along a general meal idea so you started with the cold bar, followed by hot appetizers, followed by heavier items followed by dessert.  Here are the amazing dishes we tried:

Cold Appetizers:

Smoked Pepper Crusted Beef Carpaccio-housemade beef marinated in hearts of fire

Smoked Pepper Crusted Beef Carpaccio-housemade beef marinated in hearts of fire

Tuna Poke Wonton Tacos-micro cilantro, wasabi kewpie

Tuna Poke Wonton Tacos-micro cilantro, wasabi kewpie

Hot Appetizers:

Classic Pan Con Tomate with fresh burrata

Classic Pan Con Tomate with fresh burrata

New York Pretzel-shaved NY strip, mustard aioli and crispy shallots

New York Pretzel-shaved NY strip, mustard aioli and crispy shallots

Crispy Eggplant Pizzetta-charred san marzano tomato sauce, whipped ricotta, chile oil

Crispy Eggplant Pizzetta-charred san marzano tomato sauce, whipped ricotta, chile oil

Wild Mushroom Pizzetta-roasted garlic-green peppercorn puree, robiola

Wild Mushroom Pizzetta-roasted garlic-green peppercorn puree, robiola

'Chle Relleno' Empanadas-poblano, manchego, jalapeno-lime crema

‘Chle Relleno’ Empanadas-poblano, manchego, jalapeno-lime crema

Vidalia Onion Ring Tempura-homemade blue cheese dip

Vidalia Onion Ring Tempura-homemade blue cheese dip

“Main Courses”

Oven Braised Chicken Meatballs-sheeps milk ricotta, wild mushrooms, truffle

Oven Braised Chicken Meatballs-sheeps milk ricotta, wild mushrooms, truffle

Beauty and Essex Burger-spicy roasted garlic aioli, beefsteak tomato, goat feta, crispy bbq fries

Beauty and Essex Burger-spicy roasted garlic aioli, beefsteak tomato, goat feta, crispy bbq fries

And desserts:

Molten Chocolate Bread Pudding-hazelnut ice cream

Molten Chocolate Bread Pudding-hazelnut ice cream

Hot Chocolate Affogato-espresso ice cream, dried cherry biscotti

Hot Chocolate Affogato-espresso ice cream, dried cherry biscotti

Peanut Butter and Jelly Creme Brulee-raspberry peanut butter macaron

Peanut Butter and Jelly Creme Brulee-raspberry peanut butter macaron

Black Bottomed Butterscotch -coconut chantilly

Black Bottomed Butterscotch -coconut chantilly

Each of us had our own personal favorites.  I personally LOVED the PBJ creme brulee–PB&J for grownups!!!!

Every piece of the restaurant was well thought out, down to the restroom:

Fancy Bathroom

Yes, there’s a bar in the lady’s room!

Awesome Flower Wall Sculpture

And awesome art throughout the entire restaurant!

I told Jen that I definitely want to go back there for my birthday this summer–I loved the ambiance of this restaurant and also would like to try Chris Santos’ other restaurants as well!