NYC Visit Journal

Since we returned from our trip Erin and I have been asked often “What did you do in NY?” and we have had a hard time answering, since we packed so many things into a couple days. So I decided to list it all out, to try and remember it all if nothing else, so here it is. (Of course, Erin has recently beaten me to the punch with some great posts with pics here and here.)

Sunday

  • Get girls off with grandparents for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. This will be our first multi-night trip without the girls, ever.
  • Catch our flights and talk strangers into letting us sit by each other.
  • Wait in LaGuardia Airport’s taxi line and catch a ride into Manhattan.
  • Arrive at Cooper Square Hotel – the doorman takes our luggage from cab and seats us in lobby. Hostess brings us wine and checks us in while we drink! Loving NY already!
  • We check out our room and make plans to meet our friends Ryan and Hyun-jue, who will drive into the city from their home in NJ.
  • Walk though SoHo and Greenwich Village. Erin grabbed a Gyro from a street car. We popped into many chic shoe/clothing stores like Steve Madden, Jonathon Adler and Anthropologie. Also a great art gallery with more than a dozen Salvador Dalis.
  • We hit a great chocolate shop called Voges Haut Chocolat which is probably best known for their Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar. We instead tried Blood Orange Caramel Exotic Candy Bar – we would have ordered more but figured they would melt on our walk. We also bought t-shirts from a Russian artist selling on the street.
  • Walk to Washington Square Park and rest our feet on a park bench until our friends arrive.
  • After visiting for a bit, we watched a bizarre high-jumping expedition by a guy that claimed to have a 53-inch vertical, he did do some high jumps, but it was mostly his humor that made it entertaining.
  • Walked to Mario Batali’s restaurant Babbo, where we planned to have dinner, but it was dark and stuffy. While we were sure the food would be good, there wasn’t room at the bar to visit while we wait 20 minutes for our table, so we decide to walk and find another place to eat instead.
  • We ended up at a great little Cuban restaurant called Favela Cubana where we enjoyed tasty Mojitos and Caipi-Frutas. We ate several dishes as well, including:
    • Salmon Ceviche — pineapple, cilantro, orange segments, sweet paprika
    • Boquerones — white anchovies, roasted red pepper, baby arugula, cracked black pepper, crostini
    • Cuban Mussels — P.E.I. mussels, chorizo, garlic, thyme, white wine, tomato, grilled ciabatta
  • Walk back to hotel passing several places of note: McSorely’s Old Ale House, Burp Castle: Temple of Beer Worship and Little Lebowskis, a store solely dedicated to selling items associated with the movie.
  • After a glass of wine in the hotel lobby, we all walked to a European Tapas restaurant called The Barrel, named so because the interior mimics a wine barrel.  The four of us proceed to order 9 dishes of food and a pitcher of white sangria. Our feast included:
    • Ginger Tuna Sliders with wasabi mayo and lemon onion relish
    • Tropical Calamari mango & pinapple tossed calamari with citrus
    • Salmon Graviax with onion, capers, arugula and mustard sauce
    • Steak Frites – steak and potato trio
    • Duck Leg Confit with pear compot, and beet wine sauce
    • Rosemary Sausage sauteed with chili, fresh herbs, and fingerling potatoes
    • Avocado Island of plum tomato carpaccio, lavered avocado and cucumber, lemonette
    • Ratatouille of zucchini, onion, tomato, celery, peppers and black olives
    • Roasted Portabella with stuffed with caramelized shallots and roasted red pepper
  • After much food and drink with good friends, we walk back to hotel to crash so we can start early the next day.

Monday

  • Up and at ’em early, grabbed some coffee in lobby
  • Walk to Balthazars for an amazing (and crazy expensive) breakfast, Erin had Sour Cream Hazelnut Waffles with warm berries and I had perhaps the best Eggs Benedict ever, and I try it everywhere I go. (Side note: Why would any bathroom need an attendant? I can grab my own paper towels, thanks.)
  • Head a couple blocks to jump on the Subway. It was fun, clean and crowded. I don’t think I would enjoy riding it every day as a commute, but then again my current commute is zero, so I’m spoiled.
  • Subway pulls directly into Rockefeller Center and an underground mall with tons of shops and restaurants. But we mostly skip by those and head right to Top of the Rock, the outdoor viewing balconies on the 67-70th floors.
  • We walked to Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and our New York Passes let us skip right to the front of a line that stretched down the block!
  • We explore the great art collection, including a number of really famous, historically significant pieces that I never thought I would see in person. The two I was most excited to see were not disappointing at all: Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory and Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.
  • We grabbed a quick snack in the MoMA cafe – Erin gets a rootbeer float that is wonderful and I get the best dessert of the trip, a chocolate cake to die for, and wash it down with a small pitcher of lemonade.
  • With about an hour before the NBC Studio tour starts we hustled over to Central Park, knowing that 45 minutes is not a lot of time to walk around such a massive place, I negotiate a deal with a pedal cab to give us a quick tour – it was fantastic. Very refreshing to sit and feel the outdoor air as he pedaled us through the park and pointed out the various landmarks. We got out and walked in a couple places, like near the Boathouse and in Strawberry Fields.
  • Our pedaler then raced up through busy NY streets back to Rockefeller center so we could catch our tour. The NBC tour highlight was Saturday Night Live set – I have been a lifelong fan and it was interesting to see how the stage looks in real life and hear the stories of what you don’t see on tv. One fact I remember is that each skit costs around $250k dollars! Erin came off like a SNL savant when she rightly answered the tour guides trivia, “who was the youngest SNL host?”
  • After the tour, we jump in a cab to Pier 17, we grab our sailboat tickets and have a little time to spare, so we hit a sushi shop – not that great, but did the trick. Then we shopped Schermerhorn Row, got Eva a pair of Crocs and grabbed a few drinks at a pub happy hour.
  • We then set sail on the Clipper City Tall Ship and cruised for about 90 minutes through the harbor and out near the Statue of Liberty. The weather was great and we had some drinks from the ship bar. Lady Liberty actually looked small after all the skyscrapers we had been viewing all day.
  • After the cruise, Erin pigged out on some Häagen-Dazs ice cream, while I took pictures of pigeons (I was a lil’ tipsy so it was more fun than it sounds.)
  • We returned to the East Village and actually walked right into my coworkers who were leaving dinner and heading for drinks. Erin and I were very excited to find out they were
    headed to McSorley’s Old Ale House. This place opened in 1854 and pretty much looks the same. It boasts being the oldest saloon, and that “Everyone from Abe Lincoln to John Lennon have passed thru Mcsorley’s swinging doors. Woody Guthrie inspired the union movement from a table in the front – guitar in hand, while civil rights attorney’s Faith Seidenberg and Karen DeCrow had to take their case to the Supreme Court to gain access.” They brew their own beer, so the only words that better come out of your mouth when ordering from the bar is “light” or “dark”. I actually found out that I can get this beer here in town too.
  • At about, 10:30 pm, we realized we better hurry if we are going to get to Momufukus Noodle Bar before it closes. This place was soooo delicious and fun. I would be a regular if it were local. We each got a noodle dish, I think Erin got Ginger Scallion Noodles and I got Momofuku Ramen. We also ordered Pig Tails which were just that pig tails cooked in Hoisin, because I just can not resist but try exotic dishes. Yum!
  • Completely stuffed, we walked home to the hotel, only stopping to grab some drinks from an great little open air grocery store market that was still open and busy at midnight.

Tuesday

  • I am off to meetings at Clark-McDowell until 4pm, while Erin shops ’til she drops.
  • I think the shopping highlight was Anthropologie where she got a few dresses, before it began to rain and she hit the hotel for a well-deserved nap.
  • After my meetings got out, I caught a cab in pouring rain and joined Erin for a cat nap.
  • Waking up refreshed, we noticed the rain had stopped, so we went for a walk through China town.
  • We stopped at a shop to get some bubble tea – Erin and I were introduced to this by our friend James in LA, its a tea drink mixed with fruits and/or creams, and then there are tapioca pearls in the bottom that you suck up through a fat straw while drinking. So its a drink and a snack, very odd and tasty!
  • We then saw a stuffed doggie in a shop window, and that was on our souvenir list for little Eva since she is absolutely obsessed with dogs. Erin picked one where the dog is actually holding a baby dog in its mouth, I think Eva gets a kick out of the baby doggie.
  • We then hit a place called, Bok Lei Po Trading which was mostly martial arts weapons and outfits, but we found Ella a silk purse and some cool cases like Erin had gotten her at the San Fran Chinatown. I scored another t-shirt.
  • We then walk into Little Italy, Erin bought a scarf and purse from some street vendors, then we walked past some great looking (and smelling) Italian restaurants, we would have stopped for a bite, but had reservation to get to already. We even contemplated canceling, but instead said we would eat in Little Italy when we come back to NYC!
  • Dinner was at Mesa Grill, famous TV chef Bobby Flay’s place. This was by far our priciest and fanciest meal. It was fun too, the Margaritas were delicious and we even sort of talked with the couples on either side of us and they too enjoyed the place.
    • I had the:
    • Crispy Quail with Hot Mustard, Ancho Chile, and Seitz Family Farm Honey
    • Cascabel CHile Crusted Rabbit with Toasted Cous Cous, Fava Beans, Smoked Red Pepper Sauce,a nd Queso Blanco
    • Erin had the:
    • Mashed Potatoes with Green Chile Queso Sauce
    • Cornmeal Crusted Chile Relleno filled with Roasted Eggplant, Manchego Cheese
      with Sweet Red Pepper Sauce, and Balsamic Vinegar
  • Times Square – we were both a little surprised by how this is arranged as a walking plaza area, and also how crowded it was for a Tuesday night, my guess its always packed.
  • We do a loop around Times Square fighting off comedy show ticket hawkers, and decide to go to The View, it is a rotating restaurant/bar at the top of the Marriott on the square – my friend Josh recommended it to us. We drink a few drinks and get a full circle in of the view, including a bit of a shadow peep show from a room window at the W Hotel across the way.
  • We stood at the backdoor to the Addams Family theater for a while hoping to see Brooke Shields come out and sign autographs like the other cast members had. Of course after a long wait,  she came out like 2 minutes after we walked away.
  • We decide to hit a comedy show, and go to Ha! Comedy Club into a dark basement with comics rotating from room to room performing. It was ok, a couple guys were funny, but it was nice to just sit down in AC for a while and sip Mimosas.
  • Back to the hotel exhausted and feeling like we saw it all!

Wednesday

  • Pack up and come home. Back to Mac & Cheese dinners and dirty diapers. But I think we will visit again, next time in the Fall.

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