Pretty Things. Things That Grow. | New York & Brooklyn

The other day in Manhattan (in the Washington Heights neighborhood to be precise) I saw this nice guy with a cart filled with colorful bottles that stopped me in my tracks. He said they were flavorings for the “delicious” shaved ice he sells — everything from mint to coconut to mango. We chatted a bit, he offered me a gratis shaved ice which I regretfully had to decline, and he gamely let me take a few pictures of him. A really good and friendly guy. The encounter one of the million reasons why I LOVE New York.



Speaking of love and colorful things, here’s a striking sunflower detected blooming in a community garden just a kitty corner from BAM — that is the Brooklyn Academy of Music for those of you who don’t live in these neck of the woods.

I love how in the photograph the colors of this beautiful flower are in perfect harmony with the colors of the dance poster in the wall behind it. And even the leaves of the flower seem to pantomime the gesture and movement of the dancers in the poster. Could the flower possibly be cognizant of it? Well, to slightly paraphrase Papa Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises: “Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so?”

Here are a few other pretty things growing in that small but beautifully landscaped and cultivated community garden that harbors the sunset-colored sunflower:

And finally, now that we all know what’s in the bag, here’s a date update. Ha ha, get it?



After a few more days – out and about, I didn’t feel like putting the poor dudes back in the paper bag – most merely grew more wrinkly and in dire need of a good moisturizer, but 3 dates ripened and turned brown. I gobbled one up and I’m very happy to report that its skin was translucent and the flesh was soft and sweet and tasted like candy! The two remaining ripe brown ones are on the vine as you can see. At this point, I’ve nixed plans of doing anything to the dates save for gazing at them, waiting for the rest to ripen, and once ripened, popping them in the old pie hole as a little sweet snack.

And on that note, signing off and wishing you a sweet-as-ripe-Bahari-date weekend.

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Comments (26)

  • fermentfusion 6 years ago Reply

    Thank you for this lively and poetic post, and as usual the beautifull pictures! I visited Manhattan long ago, and remember walking in Washinghton Heights: I think that’s the end of Broadway, and at that time, the area was full of south American people talking in spanish; a very lively place…is it still like that? Your friendly guy with his colorfull drinks looks hispanic.

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    Yes, it’s primarily a neighborhood way on the Western top of the isle of Manhattan with a strong presence of Spanish speaking people – it is still a very lively place. I’m so happy this revived some memories of your visit and next time you’re in NY you MUST look me up. OK? Radhika can come too 😉

    radhika25 6 years ago

    Yippie! I’d love to!

  • apuginthekitchen 6 years ago Reply

    Love the photo’s that man with the bottles of flavored syrup is great, he looks happy. Isn’t NYC wonderful! I never saw figs anywhere, where did you find them. I have seen raspberries and blackberries, YUM!! I love figs, would love to have a fig tree. Great post as always, photo’s prose et al!!

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    Suzanne, I totally hear you re a fig tree, it’d would be so nice to have one growing in one’s garden! (When I was looking to buy, was so tempted by a decrepit house that had an awesome and old fig tree, sound real estate choice ha ha but I think you’ll understand the feeling.) Can’t you plant the seeds of one in yours?? That’d be so nice.
    Have you been to that garden near BAM recently? I was there a few days ago and there were these figs, lo and behold! You should go back – it’s kind of spectacular there now. It’s on a small scale but so tastefully done.

  • Melissa Brody 6 years ago Reply

    Beautiful photography. I haven’t seen a shave ice cart in a long time. I remember when we were in Hilo, it was THE THING to get. People would wait in line at a shack for an hour if necessary. The best places were the ones that shaved by hand, not with a machine. And love the sunflower!

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    Melissa, this nice guy actually used the hand-shaving method! I really wish I could have tried one.
    I had to Google Hilo! You mean Hawaii? Seriously, shaved flavored ice was THE THING? How very interesting!!

    Melissa Brody 6 years ago

    Yes, Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. We went there a few years ago for our honeymoon. Forget gourmet food from the resorts, the two go to dishes are loco moco, a rice dish with spam and a fried egg and shave ice. Or fresh fish of course. We had dinner at Spago at the Four Seasons one night and still think some of the local meals were better for a fraction of the price.

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago

    I don’t know what I like most about “loco moco” … its awesome name or the fact that it uses spam! Thank you for some truly wondrous commentary … you have me running off to look up a bunch of things 🙂

  • Fae's Twist & Tango 6 years ago Reply

    Hi, I did not get this post on my ‘Reader’. Hmm? Just passing by…
    I can understand the way you feel about the city you live in. Especially being the hustle and bustle Big Apple.

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    You mean the WordPress reader? That has happened to me before too. Even with blogs that I subscribe to by email, here and there, there are missing notifications. Thank goodness you were browsing around here anyhow! 😉 xo a

  • Francesca 6 years ago Reply

    I couldn’t agree more about NYC. You can see amazing things when least expected. The city has its own way to always surprise you. 🙂
    So the young dates eventually found a way to please your palate. I’m glad to hear that the “mistery tale” had a happy ending. Enjoy the rest of the dates! 😉

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    Francesca, they were kind of worth the wait. Not that they are substantial to be turned into a special meal or be preserved, but once brown and ripened, the skin is crinkly like paper and come off easily and the flesh is really nice and sweet. It was a worthwhile experiment after all. I’d say try it but not sure if they have it in Italy (I think you’re still there … right?)

    Francesca 6 years ago

    No. I’m back 🙁 … school starts next week.

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago

    Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. The summer flew by! Sorry your vacation is over but happy that you are back in New York and maybe can persuade you to grace one of the potlucks one day!

    Francesca 6 years ago

    That would be lovely, Azita! 🙂

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    You will have to come to the next one. Yay! can’t wait to meet you in person!

    Francesca 6 years ago

    🙂 🙂

  • leduesorelle 6 years ago Reply

    Thanks for the update on dates… how very wonderful that they ripen into, well, dates! Thoroughly enjoyed your walk around the wilds of NY, and I’ve memories of the shaved ice guy vending outside our window on hot August nights at Tiemann Place!

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    Since I was tardy in replying to this comment I’m happy to be able to give an update re the date update! Guess what? once they really and true ripen, the flesh slips off the pit and the skin slips off the flesh and it’s really good! Hope you’ll find some one day and see for yourself. & really happy to evoke nice memories from your time at Tiemann Place!

  • laurasmess 6 years ago Reply

    I love this post. It’s been so long since I visited NYC – about 20 years to be exact (I was nine years old, haha). Love these pictures, particularly the fresh berries and the shaved ice man. I love cultural eccentricities, little things that you’d only see in a particular neighbourhood. The shaved ice man looks like a kind-eyed local legend 🙂 SO glad that your fresh dates are finally becoming edible! xx

  • priya7011 6 years ago Reply

    You’ll find such cart in every street here in India. It’s called ‘Gola’ and yeah, those colorful flavored syrupy bottles can attract anyone!!

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    how wonderful! I love knowing this and can only hope that I’ll get to visit India and taste a gola for my very own self!

    radhika25 6 years ago

    I was just going to say that- about the ice gola! And in SE Asia, you have Ice kachang which is a mixture of shaved ice, coconut milk, red beans and sweet corn! I used to turn my nose up at this, until I tasted it. Now I’m smitten!

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