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Hygge in Harlem

Jörg Schubert / Flickr / CC

Falling in the midst of winter, March is a month when the days remain short and dark, as do our tempers as we long for the coming of spring. The seasonal blues are real; the effects of fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures on our mood well-documented.

Offering tried-and-true remedies for dead-of-winter doldrums is the Danish concept of hygge: the art of coziness. Scented candles, fluffy slippers and a warm blanket all embody hygge, and serve to warm our bodies and minds during the dark days of winter. A centerpiece of hygge, specifically, is intimate gatherings around comfort food. Central Harlem is home to a plethora of indulgent, decadent comfort foods. While southern cooking is de rigueur, the neighborhood offers many options to delight the appetite and warm the soul, such as wood-fired Neapolitan pizza at Babbalucci, and Boeuf Bourguignon or classic French onion soup from Chez Lucienne. Probably the most hygge locale in the City is Harlem Ale House, an intimate beer garden and eatery featuring the historical remnants not only of its 1860 structure but also its exciting past as a 1920s speakeasy. Try the shrimp with creamy grits and pair it with a full-bodied craft beer; you won’t mind waiting out the remaining months until Spring after. And let’s not forget one of the pillars of New American comfort food: Chef Marcus Samuelson’s Red Rooster.

In the colder months, our homes envelop us in comfort. The historic townhouses of Harlem exude not only grandeur but warmth; what’s more hygge than gathering around an ornate, working fireplace? Modern renditions of townhouse living such as this invite an abundance of natural light—a documented antidote to the winter woes. But in the meantime, you may not want to venture too far from the hearth for entertainment.

Luckily in Harlem, you don’t have to. The area is home to a rich cultural landscape and iconic venues such as the Apollo Theater, Minton’s Playhouse and the Dance Theater of Harlem, just to name a few. However, there are also plenty of historic locales offering extensive cultural experiences in cozy spaces with a hint of hygge. Take the Tihkonova & Wintner Fine Art Gallery, for example. It’s housed in a historic brownstone overlooking Mount Morris Park and features a diverse set of international and local artists, hosting receptions that feature both food and music.

There’s also The Langston Hughes house, a stunning Italianate 1860s brownstone where the famous Harlem Renaissance writer composed some of his most essential works, including “Montage of a Dream Deferred” and “I Wonder as I Wander.” It’s now home to the I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit focused on fostering creativity within underrepresented communities. Not to mention, Hughes’ grand piano and original typewriter are on display.

Finally, checking off all the hygge boxes is Silvana. The self-proclaimed “social club of sorts” offers flavor-bursting Middle Eastern fare in its cozy café and intimate speakeasy-like lower level, which also features live world music and jazz.

So this month, ditch the frosty temperatures for the holistically beneficial dutch way of living. Embracing hygge can help create a lasting inner warmth this winter.

Maria Vitagliano
Ideal Properties Group
149 West 24th Street, #5B, New York, NY 10011
mvitagliano@idealpropertiesgroup.com
203-376-6617

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