I love trains. I love trains on the East coast! I loved sitting in the window and watching the passing towns, the water, the houses, the little cities, the trees in the Fall when they are filled with orange and red leaves.
There is nowhere I rather be in the Spring than in the South as it blossoms and nowhere I rather be in the Fall when the leaves change colors than the East coast.
My friend Rod offered to pick me up at PENN Station. I love having a friend at CNN who can scoot down the road and do that during an office break.
I lived in New York for six years and no one ever picked me up at the train beside a cab!
We went and I dropped off my suitcase and then I asked if he was heading back up town. He was so I hitched a ride to meet my friend CT at City Bakery. However, not expecting the ride or making such good time I ended up with 45 minutes to kill.
What to do with 45 minutes to kill? We parked the car and went and explored the block and all its facets. We laughed a lot. It was a fun and unexpected excursion. It’s times like that and random fun like that are the moments that make New York magical. It is where I come alive!
We walked back to CITY BAKERY. We had a hot chocolate with my CT friend, who hates her name in my blog, so here after, she is going to simply be nicknamed CT. (She’s from Connecticut. It just works!) Rod left and CT and I started our journey from 5th & 18th to Tribeca and to my sushi constant, NOBU.
We ate all the usual suspects. The Miso Marinated Cod, the sushi rolls, tamago, but the people to the right of us had this simple dish that looked like fries that we had to try.
Udon fritters. They were crunchy and yummy.
After dinner, we walked back for me to go to my friend’s Michael’s place and CT to get her car and go back home to CT. We walked straight up W. Broadway.
We passed the loaves of bread in the window that smelled out of this world good.
And then we took a pic of us in front of the yummy smelling bread window…notice big smiles. Bread makes one happy.
We passed the art galleries with lifesavers the size of car tires and car keys the size of a tennis racket. They don’t look huge, but they are….
We passed a car that looked like it time warped here from the 60s.
I walked CT to the subway at Bleecker and I came back to Michael’s. I looked out the window at the expansive view down Houston Street and the beauty I feel in the city, the tall buildings, the lights, the sounds, and I smile as I crawled into bed and go to sleep excited for another day in New York City. This is the view the next morning out the window.
I walked through Washington Park.
I passed the dogs in the dog run on my way to Bob’s Bagels. I passed Alec Baldwin picking up his dog’s doo doo. The dog was so small it could fit into his pocket. I had a moment where I thought of PEOPLE Magazine’s section. Famous people doing ordinary things. All of us on the sidewalk are cognizant of who it was, but no one says a thing.
I grabbed my bagel and sat in the window to eat it relishing the taste of the New York everything bagel that everyone swears tastes SO good, because of NY water. I walked up to Union Square and hopped a subway up town.
I wandered into Cartier because my mother an avid Architectural Digest (AD) reader had told me I need to see the renovations of the old mansion.
I was in awe of how that staff treated me like royalty. I was so completely convinced that they were confusing me for a celebrity as they ushered me through the rooms after I told them I read the article. They showed me Grace Kelly’s wedding ring from Prince Rainier a temporary exhibit. They were so proud of their beautifully renovated space. They were so nice, warm and welcoming. Little did they know I was a Tiffany girl, with far more Tiffany pieces than Cartier if I even had one Cartier piece. I left Cartier and couldn’t resist going into Tiffany to see if I received the same treatment only to be ignored.
I thought good on you Cartier. I will tell everyone the story. They will tell at least one person and that is the power of positive marketing. And little did they know that I would come home and blog it out to over 2000 readers. Tiffany’s there is a lesson in this for you!! Actually, usually Tiffany’s is pretty friendly. Perhaps it was an off day.
Still stumped by the adoration from Cartier. I stopped to look at a reflection in a glass window to see if I could possibly decipher whom they mistook me for but I couldn’t figure it out.
The irony is that I stopped and noticed a glut of police officers and wondered what happened and what was going on. I stepped back and arched my neck back to read TRUMP TOWER across the top of the building. It all made sense.
I kept going.
I walked over to Central Park to look down at the pond on Central Park South near The Plaza. I walked further up 5th to peek into the Zoo and take a picture for my friend Heather’s children who had asked me to see if I could spot the animals from Madagascar.
I walked further up to 72nd street and down to see a few boats sail on the pond near Alice in Wonderland and then walked over and up Madison Ave. a bit. Then it was time to go meet my friend Eric for dinner.
Being the avid Stephen Colbert fan that I am. He had a gentleman on one evening that was doing a show called ADAM’S SECRET EATS on the travel channel. His name is Adam Richman and he spoke of two different spots in Manhattan and I sent an email to my NY friends asking them, who wants to go with me and the first one to write…gets to go. Eric was the first. We went to a place called Crif Dogs.
I walked into a phone booth in Crif Dogs. I picked up the phone and it called the restaurant called PDT, which stands for PLEASE DON’T TELL and suddenly the back wall in the phone booth opened and a man peeked around asking how many and said I needed to wait for him to send me a text and then I was to come back into the phone booth, pick up the phone, back wall would open and in I would go into this dark, but attractive, although dimly lit room to eat and drink.
I think the second most favorite part of it behind going into a phone booth to enter the restaurant was Eric’s reaction to the place.
We ordered Crif Hotdogs. They insisted we both had drinks. Eric had an adult beverage and I had a super tasty mango mocktail. Then Eric got a burger and tater tots after the hot dogs. I ordered the Chang Dog & the Txikito dog below and the descriptions are below that in the menu.
It was a yummy fun night.
The following morning I went to Dean and Deluca for my iced cappuccino. I used to go every morning when I lived and worked in NY. I love the look of that place.
I passed this in line and if they didn’t cost so bloody much I may have been seriously tempted to buy something….
The line was long, but unlike Starbucks…D & D knows how to move a line. They know we are all in a rush. Love it!!! In and out so fast!!! A line half that size at Starbucks moves twice as slow as D & D lines. Plus, the coffee is so much better at D & D. It is ridiculously better. It is like comparing Walmart to Needless Mark-up (aka Neiman Marcus).
I then walked to Battery Park EXACTLY the same way I used to go to jog down there. My body almost navigated the streets on autopilot. I can’t believe that I used to come this far in the morning to run along the river. Probably, because unlike Cincinnati that has an 8am start, ALL my NY jobs all started anywhere between 9-10 am so I could do things prior to work. So civilized.
I have so many memories on this route and this walk along the river. I saw the Statue of Liberty in the distance. I thought of walking there with this turkey I dated from my Boston days, I thought of my ex-beau Ian, who moved to SF. I thought of friends and just so much on that long walk that I used to do almost daily.
I went down there because I wanted to see Le District.
I had heard so much about a place that is supposedly like Batali’s EATALY, but it wasn’t. It was in concept but not in scale or magnitude. Here’s the thing. I am so much more French than Italy and yet I love EATALY and was not crazy about Le District, but I did try a pain du chocolat. It was pretty good.
The view from Le District is lovely and so unexpected in the city…you do not feel like you are in Manhattan.
I walked to the front of the high-end shopping mall and gazed up at the new World Trade Center. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The sky that horrible day was just like this….
All these years later and there is still a hole in my heart from that day.
I left there and walked up along the Hudson and looked at what had and had not changed architecturally. Back then, I had no interest in those neighborhoods that hugged the Hudson River and now those neighborhoods, largely because of the High Line are so desirable.
I called my friend Kristen to meet up. She found a fun little place in the West Village called Jack’s Wife Freda. We waited ten minutes and then were seated.
The food was yummy! We ate Green Shakshuka, which was two baked eggs in a green Shakshuka served with Challah bread. How does anything taste bad with Challah bread? Loved the stuff.
I ordered the Croque Madame, which was a variation on the traditional. Theirs was prepared with duck prosciutto, cheddar béchamel, Gruyere cheese, and a sunny side up egg.
Both were wonderfully delicious.
Then I went to Laduree to meet a gal, who was my best friend at a tennis camp that we both attended outside of Baltimore. Her name is Nancy and she looked the same. It was as if no time had passed. We lost touch in college so 20 + years later here we were and it was so nice and so fun.
After hot chocolate, which is so fabulous and Laduree, which was a weekly hangout for me when I lived in Paris. I walked back to the hotel passing this sight. This is one small bit of why NY is so fabulous!!!
My friend Temple had stayed at a W Hotel in NY the year I had moved to NY many, many years ago, and so I gave it a try. I will not make that mistake again!!!
The view out my friend Michael’s window was beautiful and I could see so much. The view out of my W Hotel room was of a brick wall, many hotel rooms and a sliver, literally a sliver of sky.
The bed was like sleeping on a bag of potatoes. It was miserably lumpy. When I asked if they could improve the situation they sent me a rollaway bed. I paid that kind of money for a cot? You must be kidding me. The Internet was $15 a day on top of the room rate. I was outraged. I woke up with a stiff neck and a bad attitude. It was not good or pretty.
Thankfully, I only had two nights there. I went for a walk to get out all my kinks from a miserable sleep. I needed this….This made me laugh and chuckle. A naked male mannequin in a store window….it looked real…
MOMOSAN Ramen & Sake
My friend Sarah had given me the FOOD section out of her NY Times, and I found this restaurant. Kristen said she would go with me. She says her dad is the foodie, but Kristen is too!
It was the best meal I had eaten in a really long time. It just blew all the other meals out of the water, and truthfully the only one that rivaled it was a meal I had in Las Vegas with my mom, but more on that in a future blog. I must say the name again…..
MOMOSAN Ramen & Sake
Write it down and remember it. It was worth it and the wait wasn’t even insane. The location was up around the corner from Grand Central. The food was Chef Morimoto, and I had seen and heard about him, but never tried his food but had always wanted to taste it. I just found Morimoto to be on a level with Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller and their price points are off the charts high so imagine my surprise when I discovered that this restaurant of his was a reasonably priced AND with his signature stellar food.
The first impressive was the waitress. She told us all the best dishes to order and she nailed it. Each dish was better than the next one.
We started with Tokyo chicken, which was steamed chicken, aji-tama, menma, seared garlic chive, kikirage, toasted nori, soy tare. (I don’t know what half of those ingredients are either, but it tasted good, and it is a well-renown and respected chef, so I trusted him. I like his art, so I am someone who will gladly step out of the box and take a chance. I am so glad I did.)
Then we had the kakuni bao, because I find it hard not to eat porkbelly at every chance I get. This one was braised porkbelly.
The other (oh there are so many hard to resist foods) hard to resist for me personally is Peking duck. This was house made with cucumber, hoisin, apricot sweet chili sauce, crispy gyoza skin. It literally melted in my mouth.
Then we tried the Zuke maguro. I love maguro it is a yummy tuna. This one was marinated in soy served with tataki cucumber and taberu rayu. Again, I have no idea what half those ingredients are and again it was so good, I do not care!!!
We were at a community table and we were talking to the guys seated at the end of the table that were too young for us, but were pretty adorable, fun and flirty and for two 40+ chicks…it was fun.
After dinner, Kristen had heard about this pie place on the Lower Eastside. Pie is a weakness for me. We started to walk, my favorite mode of transportation but Kristen flagged down a cab. We hopped in and off we went. Petee’s Pies had a few window seats and an open kitchen that we could observe the magic. The hard part was which pie to try?
The second hard part was do you add the ice cream or not? I didn’t want pumpkin pie because I have a favorite pumpkin pie back in Cincy. I wanted pecan pie, but they were out. While we waited in line I talked to a couple of guys and the one guy said I am so hooked on these. He said he keeps coming back. He was fit as a fiddle so I want to know how much exercising he was doing to consume all this pie? In the end, I had a slice of apple pie. It was yummy. I thought about returning the next night and thought this is not a habit I need to start, plus in NY there is always something new to taste.
Kristen and I started to walk home. She grabbed a cab and I walked back to my hotel. Only in NY, could I walk 20 blocks and think of it as heavenly. When I arrived at the hotel this was glowing in the window.
Next day, I went for a walk in Central Park and landed at Tavern on the Green to meet my friends, who happen to be sisters: Sabrina & Natalie and Natalie’s daughter, Belen. Last year, Natalie had said that I needed to see the redo of the Tavern on the Green and it was nice enough that we could sit outside to enjoy it.
It was a bit gaudy before but the patio was lovely with different colored lanterns and lampshades swinging from the trees, but no longer. It now looked like a Bavarian Beer Hall. They did a nice job, but it was not my cup of tea. They did keep the high prices. I miss the lights in the trees that were utterly charming and original to the place.
We had such a lovely visit, but I always do with those two, whom I have been friends with for so long that they almost feel like family to me.
I do miss my New England/New York friends. I feel so lucky to have met them and maintained those friendships. I just think the world of those friends and just love being with them all so much!!!
I left them and went to meet CT for my last afternoon and evening in NY. We met at the usual… CITY BAKERY and Natalie had just told me that they had the best croissant in town. Pretzel croissant – no butter needed. She was right. It was yummy!
After the croissant, CT and I began to walk to the Village. We tried a place called Carma Asian Tapas. I was so disappointed. Maybe I wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t been to Momosan the night before, but there was no comparison.
Peking Duck Tacos – Shredded Peking duck marinated in homemade Hoisin BBQ sauce. Served in hard tacos. Topped with guacamole and spicy mayo.
Savory Donpo Pork Belly Bao -Pork belly marinated in Taiwanese brown sugar. Served in bun with marinated tomatoes, pickles, and carrot.
Pork Soup Dumpling
Then we did what we do best. We walked through the Village stopping to see lunch box art on the wall.
Hear a lady behind a cupcake counter sing a fun song.
See a wide variety of cupcakes.
We stopped to try some cookies called Insomnia cookies. They looked and smelled good, but Heather’s ROCK cookies were FAR better! So are LeVain’s.
We stopped in Samba. Look at the ceiling art/lights.
Another lighting caught my eye….
Then it was time to walk back to the hotel. CT and I walked. She got into a subway and I kept walking.
My highest amount of steps to date registered on my Fitbit.
Next morning, I went to meet my friend Michael for breakfast at NOHO Star. We loved the bloody there. Loved being with Michael. He is so brilliant and easy to talk with and that is a true pleasure.
I left him and went to meet Kristen at Laduree for my final hot chocolate before the airport.
The sadness at leaving started to creep in and I wondered why I am going back. This is home. This is where I belong. Why am I not here? Why did I ever leave?
I sat on the tarmac a few hours later and pondered life and how and where and why it takes us where it does…
And then I met a man on the plane who lived about 4 blocks away from me growing up and we didn’t talk until the end of the leg from DC to Cincinnati. (This was my home (below) many years ago…)
We had so much in common it was almost eerie. I guess everything does happen for a reason, and it is a small, small world, and that helped meeting someone bright and interesting, who had also moved away and had come back, but I will never understand why I left New York and I will always be trying to get back there….
Until we meet again…
Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….